By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette — The holiday season tends to be a busy time of year for jewelry store owners.
For one area jeweler, this year's run-up to Christmas was spoiled by a hammer-wielding thief and an accomplice.
Dave Costanzo, the long-time owner of Yaseen's Jewelers at 2414 Military Road in the Town of Niagara, suffered an estimated loss of about $30,000 in rings and other items over the weekend after a pair of suspects used a small sledgehammer to smash in the front door of his store. In-house surveillance cameras caught the robbers in the act, although Costanzo said the suspects' faces were not visible as one used a red hood to hide his identify and the other covered his face with a bandana.
The bandits made off with about 150 rings, mostly trade-ins, and some other items. While the costlier and newer pieces of jewelry were locked safely away during the break-in, Costanzo said the swift-moving robbers nabbed some of his more popular items, including affordable pieces that had been on display in the front window.
"It hurts," he said. "My customers went to that case first because there were such good buys in there."
Costanzo said he received a call of an alarm from his security company at 1:45 a.m. Saturday. At first, he thought something had accidentally tripped the security system. He didn't realize what had actually happened until he arrived on scene to find police investigators on site and his store entrance covered in broken glass.
"It was a mess outside," Costanzo said. "The broken glass looked like a million ice cubes."
After hammering their way into the store, Costanzo said the robbers removed three trays of rings in an inside case, all of the rings from the front-window and some change that was inside a display case hanging on a wall inside the store.
Based on data pulled from the surveillance video, Costanzo said the whole incident took less than a half minute.
"From the time they came to the time they were done, it was 28 seconds," Costanzo said. "These guys just smashed it, came in the door and took right off."
New York State Troopers, officers from the Town of Niagara Police Department and deputies from the Niagara County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene on the day of the robbery. Costanzo said the investigation is now being handled by the sheriff's office.
Yaseen's has been in business locally since 1902. Costanzo has been with the company for the past 55 years. He is now working with his insurance company to document his losses.
As for the suspects, he said he's confident — sooner or later — they'll be brought to justice.
"They'll get caught sometime," he said. "It's just a matter of time."