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‘Smash-and-grab’ jewel thief locked up for 70 months

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

For nearly two years, a 10-member jewelry store crew from Newark stalked shopping malls from New Jersey to Florida, where they smashed cases, snatched bling and bolted. Today, however, the final member was rung up by a federal judge.


Only 23 years old, Jonathan Alvarado already has served more than four years behind bars for a previous holdup in Boca Raton, Fla. Now he’s going to prison for six more. He’ll serve nearly all that time, too, same as the rest of the “smash-and-grab” crew. That’s the way it works in the federal system.


Buford, Boca, King of Prussia — as well as the Garden State Plaza in Paramus and Bridgewater Commons: All were targets of the Newark-based crew.

Alvarado pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to rob or try to rob four stores in three different states. That included a Bailey, Banks & Biddle at the Garden State Plaza, where the crew made off with $80,000 worth of diamonds, rings and Cartier watches after smashing cases in July 2003.

He later did the same in Upper Merion Township in Pennsylvania — only this time the haul was worth $215,000. Alvarado also admitted participating in another “smash and grab” in Georgia that netted $315,000 in Rolex watches.

Alvarado didn’t make things easy for himself. He was scheduled to testify for the government against two of his crewmates, William Valentin and Hector Perez, October 2008. But he took off, pulled two more heists, and remained a fugitive until he was arrested in April 2009.

On top of the prison stretch, Chief U.S. District Judge Garrett E. Brown, Jr. ordered him to pay $659,830 in restitution.

Processed in Trenton, the case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott B. McBride of his office’s Criminal Division in Newark.

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