HOUSTON—A Romanian crime family is still on the run a year after stealing $1.7 million worth of gold from a Houston jewelry store.
HPD investigators say members of this traveling family crime are masters of distraction.
"Distraction, sleight of hand, they have a whole lot going on," said investigator Kevin Simper of the HPD Burglary and Theft Unit.
Their "magic act" on September 4, 2011 was caught by surveillance cameras.
Three women dressed in traditional Indian clothes entered the store on Hillcroft right after it opened for the day. One of them was holding a baby.
"It made them [store owners] feel at ease. It made them feel comfortable with them," Simper said.
Two young men entered the store next, followed by two older men. All of them appeared to be browsing.
While they distracted the store owner and his wife with questions, the oldest woman slipped behind the counter where the safe was located.
The safe was open because the store owners were still setting up merchandise.
"She knows what is back there and she is gonna try and get it all," said Simper.
The woman’s clothing was rigged with a huge pouch sewn into her skirt.
The Romanians were inside the store for about 20 minutes before leaving with their loot.
"Gold bars and assorted gold jewelry. Most of it is gold bars," said Simper.
The owner realized what was happening when he saw the woman behind the counter. But the robbers pushed him out of the way and escaped.
The thieves tried to sell some of the gold days later in New York. That led to identification of four of the family members and charges here Houston.
The two young men in the sunglasses, and the younger woman in the video are still unidentified but police say the two older men are 40-year-old Ion Miclescu and 29-year-old Constantin Miclescu.
The two older women are said to be 44-year-old Ileana Miclescu and 31-year-old Mirela Miclescu.
Police say they’re all from the same city in Romania and are all related, but the relationships are not clear.
International police cooperation and this surveillance video led to the identifications.
Ileana Miclescu is now in custody in Canada and is being extradited to Harris County.
Everyone else involved is still at large.