TPD: $250K jewelry store heist connected to multi-county armed crime spree

Suspects arrested in Polk Co. for simimlar crimes
Posted at 11:12 PM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 01:55:23-05

Tampa detectives working with Polk County investigators brought down a group of people they say committed several "violent, take-over style" robberies in the Tampa Bay area. 

Surveillance video released by the Tampa Police Department shows just how effective a group of brazen suspects were, in very little time. Four people are now in jail after police say they stole $250,000 worth of jewelry in just 30 seconds. It happened on December 9 at Gold N Diamonds Tampa, located on Fowler Ave. 

"They're violent individuals, they've got violent histories," Det. Sgt. Patrick Messmer told ABC Action News. 

Tristan Wright and Frederick McCray were arrested for armed robbery for the Tampa jewelry store heist, and also face charges of robbery with a firearm/deadly weapon, burglary with assault/battery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Qunita Jackson faces charges of armed burglary with assault/battery, robbery with a firearm/deadly weapon, and grand theft. Timeka Tubbs faces charges of armed robbery and grand theft. 

"It was almost like they watched too many movies and thought they could get away with it," said Tampa Police Det. Scott Savitt. 

Detectives tell ABC Action News, some members of the group also committed several armed robberies in Polk County. 

Those included twice robbing a Domino's Pizza in Lakeland, both times threatening employees with a gun. 

All four suspects are from the Lakeland area. 

"They had no regard for anyone else and they seem proud of it," said Det. Savitt. 

Prior to the Dec. 9 jewelry store armed robbery, a search warrant states that Wright tried soliciting an ex-girlfriend to help with the heist. When she refused, Wright planned and followed through with carjacking her in Lakeland. The group later used the victim's stolen license to rent a car from a Lakeland business. 

The suspects drove the rented Toyota Camry to Tampa and used it as the getaway car after robbing Gold and Diamonds Tampa. 

Det. Savitt says social media was key in helping connect these four to the crime. 

"Turning over the right rock and looking under it and finding exactly what we needed to get the investigation really going," said Det. Savitt. 

Wright's Facebook page provided that help to investigators. He posted pictures showcasing the stolen merchandise and stacks of cash. 

"It's a little bit of greed," said Det. Savitt. "It's a little bit of narcissism. They do think that they they can be above the law."

Gold N Diamonds Tampa is currently undergoing a complete security overhaul and the owner plans to reopen in a couple weeks. 

Police say a fifth suspect believed to be connected to the group's crimes was also arrested in Polk County, but charges in Tampa are pending.