SAN DIEGO – Three Romanian nationals have been arrested on suspicion of elderly theft as part of a nationwide jewelry theft ring, the San Diego Police Department announced Tuesday.
Officers booked Eduard and Floarea Ghiocel, of Romania, into jail on January 4. Lt. Adam Sharki said they are suspected of grand theft of an elderly victim in San Diego County, which reportedly happened in 2021.
Sharki adds that the Ghiocels re-entered the United States from Mexico after running away in 2022, using fake names.
The Ghiocels are also wanted in numerous other cases in Southern California, according to police.
On January 10, detectives arrested Marco Miclescu, another Romanian national, on suspicion of watch theft in San Diego County, officials said. Miclescu was arrested in Texas and extradited to San Diego.
These three arrests are part of 13 made in the past nine months by officers, according to SDPD.
The 13 arrests stem from a jewelry theft ring that spanned multiple San Diego County communities beginning in early 2021, authorities say.
The incidents usually involve traveling thieves taking advantage of people, according to officials, specifically targeting Asian communities and areas with elderly residents.
Police say the suspects walk up to a victim in a parking lot of a shopping center or while the victim is out for a walk in the neighborhood. The suspects then ask for directions or tell them they were robbed.
Sometimes the suspects will say they are from Dubai and need help returning home, officials said, and once the victims let their guards down, the suspects will quickly steal necklaces, watches, rings and cash.
Officials say if the suspects did not get what they want they would sometimes use force.
Police believe the estimated losses for these thefts is in the millions, but a lot of the crimes may have not been reported.
Officials are asking for the public’s help in solving other cases in that could be related to this theft ring. People can call the SDPD Economic Crimes Unit at 619-446-1036 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.