ST. PETERS, MO (KTVI) – The St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged a 31-year-old St. Louis man for his role in a series of jewelry store thefts in St. Peters.
According to Officer Melisa Doss, a spokeswoman for the St. Peters Police Department, the burglaries occurred in the early morning hours of April 18.
The first robbery occurred just after midnight at Harris Jewelers in the 4100 block of Mexico Road. When police arrived at the scene, they discovered an exterior window had been smashed and several display cases broken. Two other jewelry stores—the Diamond Shoppe in the 7100 block of Mexico Road and Smith Jewelry & Coin in the 4200 block of Old Highway 94—were burglarized in the same manner, Doss said.
While police were responding and investigating these burglaries, an on-duty patrol officer noticed individuals attempting to break into a fourth location in the 1300 block of Triad Center Drive. When the patrol officer intervened, the suspects got into a grey Dodge Charger and fled the scene. The vehicle eventually crashed on Missouri Bottom Road near Highway 270 and the suspects escaped on foot.
Doss said police found items stolen from the jewelry stores inside the vehicle, as well as information linking the vehicle to a suspect: Wayne Collins.
Bill Harris, who owns one of the jewelry stores, lost about $60,000 in damages and stolen merchandise. His display cases are still smashed as he waits for new ones to arrive. He's seen about a 25-percent drop in customers as a result.
“They see the damages and they’re shocked,” he said.
Harris said he's got a message for the criminals.
“Why did they think they deserve something that is not theirs?"
On May 4, police were conducting surveillance on the suspect’s residence on Merollis Walk when they spotted Collins and took him into custody.
Prosecutors charged Collins with three counts of burglary and three counts of stealing. He’s being held at St. Louis County Jail on $75,000 bond. The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office also charged Collins with a burglary in Florissant.
“It’s been tough. We’ve been looking for him for about four and half months now,” said Officer Craig DeHart, Florissant Police Department.
Surveillance video showed the suspects breaking into a cellphone store in Florissant just before Christmas. They ripped off phones and laptops. All told, $14,000 worth of stuff was stolen.
“They took everything,” said Magic Gharib, father of the store's owner. “Please, we want him punished.”
Anyone with information on the identity and whereabouts on the other suspects is asked to contact the St. Peters Police Department at 636-278-1000.