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Updated 10/05/11 – 8:43 p.m.
ORLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) – Authorities are looking for a jewelry thief who ripped off at least two Orland Park stores and is suspected of similar robberies in four other suburbs.
As CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, the man – who didn’t even bother with a disguise – has stolen only large gold chains, but has made off with more than $20,000 worth of them, police said.
In April, he was caught on tape at a Lombard jewelry store, where he headed to a back counter and began talking to a sales clerk.
Moments later, a large thick gold chain is taken out of the case. He looks at the chain several times, holding it up in his hand.
“As you can see he’s engaged in conversation with the clerk,” Orland Park Police Cmdr. John Keating told CBS 2′s Kristyn Hartman. “It is customary in these types of cases; they try to gain the confidence and comfort level of the clerk.”
He put the chain down and walked around the store a few times. He then went back to the counter and looked at the chain again.
“When the clerk puts it on the counter, he attempts to distract her, requesting to see another piece of jewelry,” Keating said.
He appeared to be comparing chains and then, while he’s still talking to the salesperson, he grabbed the chain off the counter and took off running.
The suspect spent about 15 minutes in the store, looking at a 22-inch gold chain before running out of the store with it. Police said he put on a convincing show, as if he were actually going to buy the chain.
Keating pointed out that the thief also nearly ran into a woman pushing a baby stroller as he was fleeing the scene.
Although the thief has never hurt anyone in any of the incidents, Keating said, “We think this is someone that’s desperate and we want to get him in custody as soon as possible before anything escalates or anybody’s hurt.”
Last month, police said the same scene played out at two jewelry stores inside Orland Square Mall in Orland Park.
Police said the same suspect is also responsible for taking gold chains from jewelry stores in Chicago Ridge, Joliet and Oak Brook.
The suspect is a white man in his mid 30s with a medium build.
Keating said that, after police first released surveillance video images of the thief Wednesday afternoon, Orland Park police got a call from a store owner in Chicago who believed the same thief had hit their store.