Sophisticated heist hits Amherst jewelry store

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) - Burglars broke into Amherst Jewelers on Transit Road in July and made off with $300,000 in diamonds, gold and jewelry, according to the store's owner Joel Jaffe.

"Just about everything was gone," he explained.

According to Jaffe, the thieves first broke into the store through a five-foot hole in the wall connecting his store to the nail salon next door. Jaffe thinks they then used some kind of saw to cut through the walls of his safe, where he keeps cash and his most valuable jewelry.

"My heart was in my mouth," Jaffe said, describing the Monday morning he came in to work to discover the missing items. "I don't know. I tried to compose myself because I was afraid I'd have a heart attack. It's just a sickening feeling."

The store's alarm system never went off and Jaffe still hasn't learned why. He didn't insure the items and now must figure out how to cover the $300,000 loss out of pocket.

Amherst Jewelers is still open, but Jaffe doesn't have much left to sell. Many of the display cases are empty and the jewelry he does have in stock is less valuable than his normal products.

But help presented itself from an unexpected source: Jaffe's competitor in the jewelry business, M.A. Laurie Jewelers in Williamsville.

"Well because they're friends, first and foremost," Jeff Bean, owner of M.A. Laurie Jewelers, said Monday. "Acquaintances through the trade, absolutely. But Joel and Brenda are friends of ours and I think it's important to reach out and help in anyway that you can."

Bean is coordinating with suppliers to set up a trunk sale at his store on Main Street and the proceeds will be used to help Jaffe begin to replace some of his missing inventory. He's hopeful this sale will set them up to begin to recover from the theft.

"The whole purpose of this is to make sure that Joel and Brenda are back on their feet sufficiently to be able to get into the holiday season and recover completely," Bean said.

"I would never expect anybody to come up to see you and say 'you can take over my store for a couple of days' and keep everything from it," Jaffe said. "That's totally unexpected. It's just an amazing thing for them to do."

The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. August 25 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. August 26. M.A. Laurie Jewelers is hosting the sale and located at 5456 Main Street in the Village of Williamsville.

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