Arrest made in jewelry store robbery

October 18, 2019

By C.P. Thompson

A Hurley man has been accused of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry from Allen’s Silver City Jewelers and pepper-spraying a clerk last week. Cruz Placencio, 24, was arrested Tuesday and has been charged with five criminal counts.

According to an affidavit for arrest, Placencio allegedly visited Silver City Jewelers twice — once with his girlfriend — on Oct. 8, the day before the robbery. During the visits, he asked to see a catalog and for a showcase to be opened.

The next day, Oct. 9, around 11:54 a.m., Placencio allegedly entered the store wearing a gray sweater, gray sweatpants and black-and-white Adidas shoes, the affidavit states. He pointed a handgun at the clerk and demanded money, while covering his face with his shirt. The clerk gave Placencio the register tray, and he took a $20 bill.

He ordered the clerk to open the showcases, and placed the merchandise — including watches, necklaces and rings — on the counter. Placencio put the merchandise inside a backpack, and also put watches inside his pockets. The report alleges that he then pepper-sprayed the clerk and took off, dropping some watches while leaving the store.

Silver City Police Detective Salvador Quintana told the Daily Press that Placencio was in the store for about two minutes and 45 seconds, during which time he allegedly stole around $60,000 worth of jewelry. Silver City Police Chief Fred Portillo previously told the Daily Press that the clerk received medical attention on the scene, but her injuries were non-life-threatening, and the robber headed west on Market Street after leaving the store.

The clerk said she knew “the guy was trying to disguise his voice, but once the male subject started talking, Cruz Placencio was the first person” who came to mind, police said. The robber and Placencio share the same build, as well.

The affidavit states that a man saw Placencio get into a red two-door pickup on the corner of Arizona and Kelly streets. Surveillance video from Silver City Jewelers shows that Placencio drove an identical vehicle to the front of the store during his visit Oct. 8, the day before the robbery.

An off-duty police officer saw Placencio driving the same vehicle Oct. 14, and tried following it to “have an officer make contact, but lost the truck during the incident,” according to the affidavit. The officer ran the license plate, and determined that the vehicle belonged to Placencio’s mother.

On Oct. 15, around 8:53 a.m., a police officer saw Placencio enter a business on Pope Street and contacted Quintana. Quintana asked Central Dispatch if Placencio still had a valid warrant, which stemmed from a battery charge. Placencio then came out of the business and got into a vehicle — but not the one from the robbery. Quintana told Placencio about the warrant, and later arrested him.

A police officer conducted a “search incident” on Placencio and found a wristwatch taken from Silver City Jewelers, the affidavit states. Quintana wrote that he saw a dark-colored sweater and black-and-white Adidas shoes through the vehicle’s window.

Placencio told Quintana that he has “belongings” in a Hurley home. After obtaining a search warrant, Quintana found a tag from Silver City Jewelers, rings and a receipt from DK Gun and Pawn. Quintana learned from a clerk at DK Gun and Pawn that Placencio got a gun from the store on Oct. 5. Quintana also found .40-caliber bullets in the vehicle.

The affidavit states that a search warrant was approved for the Hurley home, which Quintana and another detective searched Oct. 15. During the search, a crystal-like substance and more .40-caliber bullets were found.

On Oct. 16, Quintana found the truck that was used from the robbery at Placencio’s girlfriend’s home in Silver City. After getting a search warrant, Quintana found a plastic bag that had “a rose gold diamond ring with a white tag with” numbers. The numbers matched the Silver City Jewelers inventory sheet.

Quintana talked to a Las Cruces Police Department detective, who told Quintana about LeadsOnline, a pawn shop information program. While searching the program, he found that Placencio’s girlfriend had pawned two rings at a pawn shop in Las Cruces.

The affidavit states that the girlfriend admitted to pawning the two rings. Placencio told his girlfriend that they “were his mother’s rings, and that he wanted her to pawn them for him due to his appearance.” The girlfriend said “she didn’t think anything of it, due to his mother having a lot of rings.”

Quintana showed the girlfriend pictures from Silver City Jewelers, and she said that the two rings were given to her before coming to the store.

Placencio has been charged with armed robbery, larceny, aggravated assault, possession of a controlled substance and battery.

Detectives said they are working with Las Cruces and El Paso police to recover what was stolen.

Around an hour before the robbery, a man called Central Dispatch from a telephone number with a 505 area code, and said “he is going to shoot up Silver High” before hanging up. Silver High School and neighboring schools were placed on lockdown. After the schools were declared safe, they were removed from lockdown around noon.

A detective is still working on the lockdown and attempting to trace the number. There hasn’t been anything “concrete” that leads police to assume that the robbery and threat are connected. The robbery incident is still active and anyone who has information about it should visit the Silver City Police Department or call them at 538-3723.

Placencio was booked into the Grant County Detention Center on Oct. 15, and remained at the detention center Thursday night.