Man breaks into jewelry store, gets trapped, cameras capture incident

Posted at 10:14 PM, Feb 12, 2014

SANDY, Utah -- Security video shows a Sandy jewelry store thief being arrested after he was trapped inside the business he was robbing.

It happened Wednesday around 6:30 a.m. at Sierra West Jewelers at 10600 South State St.

"We have a rental unit behind the Sierra West building," Owner Tim Branscomb said. "He was able to break a door and go through a dead bolt and climb into an area that's called Bryce Catering, it's a restaurant."

Once inside, police said 32-year-old Gene Richins climbed into the ceiling, crawled toward the jewelry business then crashed through its ceiling into an office in the back of the store.

Cameras then spot the suspect using a screwdriver to break glass cases and steal a watch. But by that point, alarms were sounding and the thief couldn't escape the way he came in. When he tried to break the windows, he was surprised to learn they're shatter-proof. So are the doors. The video showed the suspect kicking doors and trying to jimmy locks, but it was no use.

"When our officers got there, he was trying to get out of the business using a fire extinguisher, trying to break out the windows," said Sgt. Jon Arnold of the Sandy Police Department.

Cops surrounded the building and had Richins at gunpoint. Hanging his head in defeat, he laid on the ground, and, knowing it was all over, he decided to smoke a cigarette before cops slapped the cuffs on him.

It turns out, "We're pretty sure he's the guy who broke in three to four years ago here; that time he did get away with about $75,000 of things," Branscomb said.

The owner said it was that previous robbery - possibly involving Richins - that prompted the owner to buy shatter-proof windows.

"He [Richins] has a house about four blocks from here where his parents live, we think he was living in at the time," Branscomb said.

For now, the thief will be living in the Salt Lake County Jail. As for the shatter-proof glass, the owner said it was money well spent and the look in Gene Richins’ mugshot says it all.

"This business was prepared and this individual was caught, which was a good thing," Arnold said.

Police said Richins was working alone and was caught with stolen merchandise on him. He gave up without a fight and is now facing a felony burglary charge.