‘Swap and grab’ Rolex heist at El Cajon jewelry store

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) – Surveillance video shows two men making off with an expensive Rolex watch after an unusual ‘swap and grab’ heist at an El Cajon jewelry store.

Around 3 p.m. Wednesday inside Ishtar Jewelry, two men entered with a very specific watch in mind. An hour or so earlier, they had called the store.

“They actually called ahead, asked if we had a specific model Rolex,” said Thomas Toma, a manger at the store.

Toma says the men had confirmed on the phone that a green-faced divers’ watch, valued between $22,000 and $28,000 was in stock.

Toma says his sister got the watch from a safe in the back and handed it to one of the men, who then asked for a microscope to inspect it.

As she was retrieving it, the man who was holding the Rolex is seen reaching into his pocket for another item, which he placed in the showcase just as she’was returning.

Around that time, one of the men started to leave.

“They said they were going to get their wallet from the car. They liked the watch,” said Toma.

Toma says sitting on that showcase was what looked like a Rolex. It was the right model, but a fake.

“The second she sees the watch she realizes it’s not the watch. She says, ’Hey, excuse me.’ The second they heard her, they knew,” said Toma.

According to Toma, by that time, one of the men had been buzzed out the secure door by another employee. He held the door open for the other man. Video shows the two running to their car, with employees right behind them. The men would get away.

“It’s terrible. You put your blood sweat and tears into something, and people try to take it away from you in an instant,” said Toma.

Toma says in the 16 years his family has owned the store, this is the first time he’s seen the ‘swap and grab’ tactic.

“The tactic is just to easiest way to get that door open. The door’s not going to open without a watch being in front of us,” said Toma. “I think these guys are getting smarter. They’re getting better at what to do.”

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call El Cajon Police at (619) 579-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.