UPDATE: Hidden thieves steal $50-100k in jewelry after store closes

Published: Oct. 16, 2018 at 9:42 AM EDT
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UPDATE 10/16/18 @ 6:20 p.m.

It’s a heist straight out of a movie. A person hides in a store until it closes, then steals tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry.

This happened at the Kmart in Scott Depot, one that is closing in less than six weeks.

Investigators said it could be related to a similar burglary at a Kmart in Charleston.

Shoppers said it's another good reminder to not shop at night -- even at a place where signs declare everything must go.

But while deals are great, that doesn't mean it's legal to take things for free.

But Putnam County deputies said that’s exactly what at least one thief did after closing on Saturday, hiding in the store, then stealing anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 worth of jewelry, finally running out a side door about 2:45 Sunday morning, triggering an alarm.

"That's sad, really that somebody would have to do that," said shopper Lauren Napier.

"That's crazy. I can't believe the world we live in sometimes," adds shopper Debra Jarvis.

Investigators are looking at surveillance video to try to get a clear picture of the thief.

Many shoppers like Napier, a wife and mother of three small children, see the burglary as a one-time incident. But still it's a reminder why she does her shopping during the day, preferably in the morning.

"Because you never really know what people are going to do,” she said. “After hearing all the stories about kids getting taken and people stalking mothers, you just never know."

"I won't go out late at night and shop at all," adds shopper Charmie Starcher.

What also bothers Napier is the likelihood the stolen jewelry is only valued by the thief to fund other illegal activity.

"They'll probably sell it and get money for drugs," she said.

One thing everyone agrees on is the sadness that Nov. 25 is the last day this store will ever open for business, especially as parent company Sears declares bankruptcy just one day earlier.

Now there's $100,000 less merchandise to choose from.

"It makes me really sad, it really does," Starcher said.

"It's painful. It's hard to see so many things that have been a normal part of our life,” Jarvis added.

Putnam investigators are still reviewing surveillance video to locate the thief.

Meanwhile, Charleston police are looking for Jacob Hamilton, 20, who is connected to a $56,000 burglary at the Kmart on Patrick Street.

Officers found his fingerprints both inside and outside the store after a breaking and entering in August.

Hamilton was arrested the next day with some stolen merchandise, but it wasn't until a few days later his fingerprints came back.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest, though court records don't explain how he broke into the store.

Kmart did not return our messages for comment.


Like a scene right out of a heist movie, deputies are looking for thieves who stole thousands of dollars in jewelry from a store.

Criminals stole approximately $50,000 to $100,000 in jewelry from the K-Mart in Scott Depot.

According to the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, the theft happened while the store was closed. The criminals hid somewhere inside the store until the staff left.

The thieves escaped, but not quietly. Deputies say they ran out a side door that triggered a fire alarm.

Investigators and store management are combing through security footage. They also have to take inventory to determine exactly how much was stolen.

Deputies have not identified suspects.