Courts & Crime

Thieves punched through wall in Kansas City jewelry heist

KANSAS CITY — Thieves punched through a concrete block wall and bored into a thick metal safe early Monday to steal gold and diamonds from a Country Club Plaza jewelry store.

“It was like the Mafia,” said Simon Zouein, the owner of Vinca Jewelry at 4801 Jefferson St. “They had three or four hours, and nobody caught them.”

Police said the loss was large, but neither they nor Zouein would say how much the burglars made off with. The take included loose diamonds, gold chains, and wedding and engagement rings from metal boxes in the safe.

“I don’t want to go into numbers. It will affect sentiment on the Plaza,” Zouein said.

Zouein discovered the heist when he opened his business at 10:30 a.m.

The burglars broke a 3-by-4-foot hole through the wall from an enclosed service corridor next to his store sometime overnight.

The thieves had time to break through a 6-inch concrete wall and cut through the back of an adjoining 6-inch-thick, double-layered steel safe to clean out the jewelry stored there overnight.

Zouein has operated Vinca Jewelry on the Plaza for 35 years, about half that time at the location at 48th and Jefferson streets. The enclosed walkway where the burglary occurred runs between his business and the Ingredient restaurant at 4807 Jefferson St.

“They came from behind the store through a private alley that’s usually locked, and it was locked,” Zouein said. “They broke the door to the alley. Then they went in and broke the concrete wall of our store.”

The service corridor is controlled by Highwoods Properties, the owner of the Plaza.

“No security caught them,” Zouein said. “I don’t know who to blame.”

Highwoods officials could not be reached for comment.

By late Monday afternoon, a plywood board covered the hole where the burglars entered, but concrete debris remained on the passageway floor.

When he arrived to open the store, Zouein knew something was amiss because of all the dust inside.

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