PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–Our meeting with Wasim Shazad wasn’t planned. We found him babysitting at one of the three Jeweler’s Row area storefronts he owns. The unscheduled interview with CBS 3 came two hours before prosecutors would hold a news conference detailing the tens of thousands of pieces of jewelry he allegedly fenced through his businesses. Shazad told us he would be pleading not guilty.
At that news conference, Montgomery County law enforcement officials displayed a small percentage of the 50,000 pieces of precious jewelry and items they claim Shazad had inside his stores. Police arrested him in January and tied him to the massive burglary ring. The burglars targeted high-end Main Line homes. Even NBA star Kyle Lowrey, a former Villanova Wildcat, was hit. He previously declined comment through a Toronto Raptor’s spokesman.READ MORE: Bus Driver, Aide Seriously Injured After Crash Involving Small School Bus In Winslow Township
“The set-up was consistent with a large jewelry fencing operation including pillowcases with stolen jewelry and silver,” Lower Merion Police Superintendent Michael McGrath said.
The burglaries go back to 2013, according to court documents.
Police are aware of 15 cases in Pennsylvania. But investigators believe Shazad and four others who have been charged – are also responsible for burglaries in New Jersey and Delaware.
Shazad told CBS 3 he’s been in business for 20 years and can prove the jewelry is his.
We asked: “So that would mean police are wrong. So why would they come after you?”READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Winter Storm Could Produce Enough Snow To Crack City’s Top 20 Snow Days
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not saying who’s wrong, who’s right – but I’m right, this is what I do.”
Police and prosecutors are hopeful the jewelry can be returned to its rightful owners.
The district attorney’s office has established a website with pictures and information.
It can be found at: montcopa.org/JewelryWebsite
Police ask members of the public who believe their jewelry to be part of this, to provide as much identifying information as possible, including the police jurisdiction that originally investigated the burglary.
As far as Shazad’s position that the jewelry is his, District Attorney Kevin Steele said:
“We look forward to trying him on the 15 counts of corrupt organization we have now.”MORE NEWS: 17-Year-Old Student Christopher Braxton Shot, Killed Near Bartram High School In Southwest Philadelphia, Police Say