DC-based ring busted after string of armed robberies at Virginia and East Coast jewelry stores

Several people from the D.C. area have been arrested in a string of offenses linked to robberies of jewelry stores in Virginia and along the East Coast.

Of the 16 arrested, two of the people live in Maryland, one in Virginia, 12 in the District, and one from California; they range in age from 20 to 45-years-old.

Between Jan. 7, 2022, to Jan. 27, 2023, the group “conspired in D.C.” and struck jewelry stores owned by Asian Americans, the Justice Department said in a news release. Four of these stores were located in Springfield and Falls Church in Virginia, while the other five were jewelry stores across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida.

“Disguised in dark clothing, masks, and gloves, armed with a gun, one or more of the defendants used various vehicles, including stolen vehicles, to commit and flee from the robberies,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves said.

While the stores that were robbed were primarily Asian American-owned businesses, Graves said he did not view it as a hate crime.

“Our understanding is that, it’s not necessarily related to the ethnicity or national origin of the owners,” Graves said. “There was a belief from the conspirators, we allege, that these type of jewelry stores would have jewelry and, particularly, gold of a certain kind that would be easier to sell on the fence market.”

The Justice Department said some of the defendants are also accused of carjackings and money laundering.

While none in the group are in their teens, Graves, in announcing the arrest of the group, said that he has instructed his prosecutors to “strongly consider” charging 16- and 17-year-olds arrested in a “spree of armed robberies or a pattern of armed robberies” as adults.

Graves’ statement came as five teenagers were arrested Tuesday in a string of robberies and carjackings in the District.

FBI Special Agent Jim Dennehy said that the robberies at the jewelry stores, several of which were family-owned, were “take-over style armed robberies meant to terrify and overwhelm store owners and employees,” giving no thought about the people who could have been hurt or even killed.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg said thousands of dollars of jewelry were taken. Investigators also found several guns and approximately $300,000 from a safe.

The group faces several years in prison if convicted.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up