Detective: Woman switches diamond for costume jewelry

Detectives say surveillance cameras show thief swap out earrings

Published On: Dec 03 2012 04:27:12 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 03 2012 10:08:09 PM EST
ORANGE PARK, Fla. -

Clay County detectives are looking for a woman they say walked out of the Belk store at the Orange Park Mall on Thursday with a $1,500 diamond earring she didn't pay for.

According to the Sheriff's Office, the woman picked out the diamond earring from the jewelry case and held it up to her ear, but when she handed it back to the sales associate, it wasn't the $1,500 earring, but a piece of costume jewelry.

"She went to the fine jewelry section, looked at what she wanted to steal, went to the fashion jewelry section, picked out a fake cubic zirconia earring that matched it, and then went back and did a switch-off at the counter when she was asking the associate to look at it," said Detective Adam Graff, of the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

IMAGES: Surveillance images show suspect, switch

The clerk, who has worked the jewelry counter at Belk for years, said it didn't feel right when she got it back. But by the time she had confirmed it was a fake, the thief had left the store with two men.

While the clerk couldn't see the woman make the switch, Graff says it could be seen in video from overhead surveillance cameras. The Sheriff's Office released images of the woman hoping to find their thief. At the time, she was wearing a blue sweater, a black and white striped shirt, blue jeans and had a black left eye.

As an organized retail theft detective, Graff says he sees quite a bit of retail theft this time of year. He's confident this thief will be caught.

"She looks very familiar to a lot of people I've talked to, so I mean, she's going to be a local person," Graff said. "It's just a matter of identifying her, and any help we can get with that would be much appreciated."

Anyone with information about the woman in the photos is asked to contact the Clay County Sheriff's Office at or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.