Four men indicted for stealing a $2 million, four-pound ruby during a jewelry store robbery in Wilmington were arrested Thursday and prosecutors say this wasn't their first crime.
Police say robbery was carefully planned, with the thieves studying the store's layout and using rental vehicles with stolen plates to make their getaway.
The indictment, which was unsealed Thursday after the arrests, says that the armed, masked men tied up store employees with zip ties and duct tape, smashed glass display cases with hammers and stole the jewelry.
Among the items stolen was the 4-pound, 5-inch Liberty Bell Ruby worth $2 million, made from the largest mined ruby in the world. The jewel was sculpted in 1976 for the United States bicentennial. It's adorned with 50 diamonds, one to represent each state.
The ruby's owners hoped to sell it to a philanthropist who would donate it to Philadelphia's National Liberty Museum.
The total value of the items stolen was $4.4 million.
Three of the alleged robbers are also tied to a theft ring that committed smash-and-grab robberies similar to the Delaware incident in their home state as well as New Jersey, prosecutors said in a news conference Friday morning. Authorities say those robberies netted jewelry valued at about $3.5 million, including $1.7 million from a single store in King of Prussia, Pa., that was robbed three times in a period of 13 months.
None of the jewelry has been recovered and authorities say they have little hope it will ever be recovered.
"I don't think there is an expectation right now at this point, two years after the robbery, that we're going to be able to locate it," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie McCall said.
Photo: Liberty Bell Ruby