NEW YORK – A security guard has been arrested for stealing $5 million in diamonds from a New York jeweler after a construction worker accidentally threw the precious stones in the trash, police said.
Wilfred Martinez was charged with the theft after police said he was caught on surveillance video from inside J Birnbach Inc, a jewelry maker located in the heart of New York’s diamond district. Jonathan Birnbach had told police last week that he kept the diamonds inside three wooden boxes in an unlocked safe for easier access and didn’t notice they were missing because he rarely handled them.
Workers renovating the interior of the business threw the boxes out without realizing they contained diamonds, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a press conference on Thursday. Martinez saw the boxes and took them into the bathroom, where he consolidated the diamonds into a single box before leaving with them, Boyce said.
He sold some of the diamonds to another dealer for $68,000 – a “bargain price,” Boyce said. He admitted to the theft in a statement to police after his arrest, and investigators have recovered the stones. J Birnbach specializes in high-end diamonds and has created jewelry worn on red carpets from the Oscars film awards to the Emmys television awards, according to its website.