By Anita Oh
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police are investigating a brazen burglary at Barsky Diamonds in Center City that was all caught on surveillance cameras.READ MORE: Abortion Rights Advocates Gather For Bans Off Our Bodies Protest In Philadelphia After SCOTUS Overturned Roe v. Wade
“I had a bunch of trays of diamond earrings down here and they took them all,” says owner Nathan Barsky.
When the store closes, so does the security gate. It’s supposed to guard the gems inside. But Barsky says early on the morning of February 13, thieves hot-wired it open.
Once that gate was up, the thieves had to get through the door. But the glass has been treated so it can’t be broken. So the burglars had to jimmy the locks.
“There’s just a scratch by the lock,” he says, “they were very good.”
Once inside, surveillance video shows the burglars breaking into at least four cases and swiping nearly half a million dollars in jewels.
It was bold, police say, and strategic.
“We clearly can see these individuals knew exactly what they were looking for and went to some specific items,” says Lt. John Stanford.
But it’s not the first time this store, a fixture of Jewelers’ Row for more than a hundred years, has been hit by a heist.
Barsky says back in November 2014, crooks cut through the security gate and stole about $200,000 worth of jewelry.READ MORE: 11 Separate Shootings In Philadelphia Leave 2 Dead, 10 Others Injured: Police
But more than the cash, he says, the thieves are stealing a sense of security.
“It’s just after hours. It’s like there’s no patrol,” he says. “It’s like open season.”
That’s unacceptable, the Barsky family says, when the shop shells out tens of thousands of dollars a year in taxes.
“The business privilege tax that we have here. For what? We have no protection,” says Jeff Barsky. “We get robbed. What’s the privilege?”
Jeff says police used to patrol the area 24/7, but not so much anymore.
“There’s no protection on a block that generates revenue for this city that has hot ticket items,” he says.
He says as crime goes up, so do the “For Rent” signs. And it’s bringing business down.
“This is the problem,” Jeff says. “We don’t have police protection. Customers don’t feel safe, and it’s a spiral.
The solution, Barsky says, will have to start at City Hall.MORE NEWS: Brandywine Valley SPCA, Other Shelters Holding Mega Adoption Event This Weekend
“We have the finest police, I think, anywhere, but their hands are tied,” he says. “You need people in the politics of the city to spend money where it needs to be spent.”