Man believed to be connected to $1 million in jewelry thefts

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter, Mallorie Sanders, Alexia Tsiropoulos

HOUSTON - Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Office deputies have arrested a man who confessed to stealing three precious family heirlooms belonging to a Houston woman.

Through a thorough investigation, deputy constables believe Raul Hernandez is also connected to another 455 stolen pieces of jewelry worth more than $1 million.

Since 2015, investigators said Hernandez has not only been working at jewelry stores, but he was stealing jewelry and diamonds from them, too. He would later sell these pieces to pawn shops, according to investigators.

What happened

It happened most recently at Rebecca Lankford Designs.

"There's no replacing them, so it's a difficult place to be," Rebecca Lankford, designer and co-owner of Rebecca Lankford Designs, a small jewelry shop in the Heights, said.

Ann Singleton, a client of Rebecca Lankford Designs, originally brought her family heirloom pieces to the shop to have them repurposed into earrings and a pendant. The items were three rings: her mother's engagement ring, her grandmother's engagement ring and another ring belonging to her grandmother.

Lankford was in tears when she called Singleton with the news that someone had taken Singleton's jewelry.

"Just devastated. They were deceased, so it's like losing them all over again," Singleton said.

How he did it

The owners never suspected Hernandez because they said he worked with them. However, after looking through surveillance video, owners said they found video catching him in the act.

"In slow motion, he just clearly took the envelope," co-owner Hannah Parker said.

It was a process that took half an hour.

"Grabbing the envelope and folding it in half and then shoving it back in the desk. Then grabbing the envelope, folding it in a quarter and then shoving it in the desk until it was small enough to put in his pocket," Parker said.

More victims?

Parker, Lankford and Singleton all said they were grateful for the diligence and quick work of Precinct 1 investigators.

Investigators said Hernandez was out on bond for the same situation. They eventually found that Hernandez was involved in pawning 455 items worth more than $1 million.

He has been charged with theft.

Investigators want to return the stolen items to their rightful owners. They are asking anyone who believes they've worked with Hernandez and have been victimized to call them at 713-755-5200.

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