A roving band of armed jewelry thieves targeting traveling salesmen struck again Thursday, marking the fourth such violent robbery in the Houston area within the past three weeks, reports the city’s Chronicle. The latest heist happened about 1:30 p.m. Thursday when three masked men followed the victim into a Waffle House restaurant. They pistol-whipped the salesman and took his merchandise. Waffle House employees said the robbers seemed to know their target. They went straight for the dealer and did not harass other patrons.
The victim, an Asian man in his late 20s, reported to police he had arrived in Houston from Hong Kong about 7 a.m. Thursday and was carrying $1.4 million in diamonds at the time he was robbed. Bandannas covered the faces of the three armed men. The thieves escaped in a Mitsubishi Galant, the same type of get-away car used Wednesday when robbers took about $1 million worth of jewelry and assorted gems from another salesman. FBI agents believe the robbers are part of a larger ring known as the South American Theft Group. They’ve been operating in the United States for at least 20 years and made a lucrative swing through the Houston area in 2003.