RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -- An elaborate, multi-state jewelry theft ring is busted right in our own backyard.
Seven people -- believed to be Columbian nationals -- were caught yesterday, accused of targeting jewelry salespeople across seven states, including Virginia.
One victim we talked with says this is all a war, with the members from the group alleged in these thefts, really soldiers, out looking to attack.
It's a lucrative business. Investigators say jewelry totaling $4.6 million was violently stolen right from the hands of everyday people just trying to do their job.
"It's good to get them. Finally, at least some of them," said Ronnie Adolf. He's the President of Adolf Jewelers in Henrico's West End, one of the targets.
He said, on multiple occasions, people trying to sell him jewelry to stock his store ended up being targets of violence. It's something that's been happening for years.
"It's horrible. At one point, I wrote to my salesmen and said just don't come see me anymore," said Adolf.
Investigators say members of the group would sit in their cars outside of a jewelry store and watch to find these salespeople. Then, the members would follow that person wherever they went. Then they'd rob them -- sometimes at knife-point.
Less than a year after being a target, Adolf decided to help out in a sting operation to help catch the alleged criminals.
It all lead investigators to crimes that span eight locations in Virginia, from Henrico to Roanoke to Virginia Beach. It also went coast-to-coast from North Carolina to California.
At times, we're told members of the ring would follow the salespeople for hours and take the stolen jewelry to New York to sell.
Members were said to have bought cars at a south Richmond shop to get the job done.
"I don't think it'll stop it, but it may slow them down and get them out of Richmond for a while," said Adolf.
A source tells us the seven suspects were arrested Tuesday, as another robbery was about to take place. If convicted, some of the members in the ring could face decades in prison.