OKC jewelry heist costs two businesses close to $1M
The owners of Moncada’s Gold Jewelry and Joyería Luz Mari were walking into their Oklahoma City flea market booths Sunday morning when they found their safes had been cut through and everything inside of them had been stolen.
Hector Moncada said he got a call Sunday morning from his mom who was in tears after opening their safe at the OKC Plaza SE 44.
“No nothing. None of the jewelry and that’s when we found out that it was stolen,” said Moncada.
Moncada said it was heartbreaking to hear how upset his mom was.
Another business set up close to Moncada’s Gold Jewelry, Joyería Luz Mari found themselves in the same situation.
Luz Morales’ sister called her Sunday morning as well to say someone broke through their safe and stole everything inside.
“I think more than anything, it was a shock because she’s [Morales’ mom and Owner of Joyería Luz Mari] done this for 27+ years and it’s never been to this extent,” said Morales.
Morales said $500,000 in gold jewelry was stolen.
“That includes jewelry that people put on layaway, so not only is the merchandise gone, but also things that people had chosen out specifically for an event for Valentine’s Day that they were paying off on. Now she owes them either cash back or another product,” said Morales.
Moncada estimates $240,000 in gold jewelry and cash was stolen.
“I would say that was part of my parents retirement,” said Moncada.
According to Moncada, the thieves broke in through the flea market’s back door.
From there, a small hole was cut into a wall about 15 feet from the back door.
Moncada said they then made it through several other flea market booths and ripped through their tarps dividing them from other businesses.
The thieves eventually made it to Moncada’s safe as well as Luz Mari’s.
Surveillance footage shows three men are huddling near a wall.
Behind the wall is Luz Mari’s hidden safe.
“It’s in a closet within her booth that she specifically made, you know, to be that way. It has a curtain over it so nobody knows that it’s back there. Before business really starts and customers start coming in, all the jewelry is out. Anything that she could possibly need is there, so she doesn’t have to go back there. Even if she did, there’s a curtain that people wouldn’t be able to see. It just doesn’t make sense,” said Morales.
Morales added those thieves cut through the closet wall, sheet rock, then the back of the safe.
The surveillance video shows one man was working to get to the safe, another was on the lookout and another on standby.
One of the men crawled to the surveillance camera and attempted to cover it, but was unsuccessful.
Moncada said their safe is also relatively hidden.
He said before his parents even open the safe, they clear the area to make sure no one is around to see them unlock it.
Both families suspect this burglary was an inside job as they say the suspects knew exactly where the safes were and how to avoid setting of the market’s alarm system off.
Moncada said the surveillance cameras show the heist started around 11 p.m. on Saturday and ended around 4 a.m. on Sunday.
A surveillance video shows what appears to be a newer version of a Chrysler Pacifica rolling up to the back of the flea market.
One by one, the three men jumped into the car and drove off.
The two business have filed a police report with Oklahoma City.
Moncada showed News 4 a case number in which it has already been assigned to a detective, but no word on the suspects yet.
“You really hurt a lot of people and even customers that are hurting and for my mom. We really hope to catch you and make you pay for everything that you took,” stated Morales.
Moncada is hoping his family receives at least some of the stolen jewelry back.
“We just want to keep on going with our business, you know. That’s all we want moving forward,” said Moncada.
Both businesses are jointly offering a $10,000 reward for any lead that results in an arrest.
Moncada said they’ll keep those leads anonymous if requested.
Maryland man's flea market trip leads to $50,000 lottery prize
A Maryland man on his way out of a flea market made a stop at a liquor store and won $50,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket.
Ernest Saindon, 70, of White Plains, told Maryland Lottery officials he was on his way out of a flea market in a White Plains strip mall parking lot when he decided to make a stop for lottery tickets.
"I had to pass by Willett's Liquors on the way to my car," Saindon said. "I figured I'd get my tickets for the day."
Saindon said he decided to try a new scratch-off game, Gold X20, and the $5 ticket revealed a $50,000 prize.
"I was dumbfounded, must have done two or three double-takes," the player said of revealing his prize. He said he informed the clerk at the store after using a scanner to confirm his prize.
"He was as surprised as I was. He called the store's owner to share the news," Saindon said of the clerk.
Saindon said he plans to share his winnings with his family.
El Mercadito, formerly known as the Eastland open-air market, hosts official grand opening at new location
As the future of what's next for the site of the former mall still develop, the open-air market that found a temporary home there now has a permanent place.
Vendors from the former Eastland open-air flea market hosted their grand opening at their new location on Galleria Boulevard near Matthews.
The city closed the previous location back in February, displacing dozens of vendors.
"It’s been a long road to get here to this point and you can see by the looks of the vendor’s faces. This all makes it worthwhile,” said Charlotte City Council member Tariq Bokhari.
El Mercadito, or “The Little Market”, celebrated its official grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Charlie Mulligan is the temporary manager.
"We do expect to fill this entire place up and we can fit about 150 vendors here,” he said.
PREVIOUSLY: Charlotte City Councilman announces new site for open-air flea market
About 70 vendors were on the site Saturday. The market opens on Saturdays and Sundays, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m.
"It’s designed well and we’ve had 4 weeks of a soft launch where everyone gets into the rhythm of how they set up. It is very structured in a way that is customer friendly,” said Bokhari.
Vendors were devasted after the city closed the Eastland mall location earlier this year and were told a new space was not possible. However, after months of searching, vendors opened their tents on the new ground last month during a soft opening.
“This one resonated with me,” expressed Bokhari. “I can tell these were folks that said I want to work hard. I need to be able to provide for my family so for the fact that months and months went by with no solution. And it was something that could be solved.”
Leonardo Cortez, one of the vendors at El Mercadito, said this is how he supports his family and it’s their livelihood. He is grateful for the Galleria location.
PREVIOUSLY: City of Charlotte says there are potential new locations for Open Air Market
“It was very tough during that 10 months to find a new place but we finally have a new place and we are very excited,” he said.
His goods were ready to be sold and on full display.
“Soccer jerseys are my main merchandise,” said Cortez. “I also sell soccer balls, shoes, a little bit of everything.”
A little bit of everything is what you’ll find at the little market; from clothes to jewelry to Hispanic-made goods. There are also food stands and food trucks.
Vendors say they are looking forward to welcoming new faces.
“There isn’t another one around, so it’s a new area where new people can come by and buy,” said Uriel Ugaret, a vendor.
“Winter time is very hard for us, but I think by spring it will be very busy,” said Cortez.
Mulligan said they have the space for at least the next two years.