Thief employs classic move to nab $255K ring from Tiffany, authorities say

NEW YORK (AP) — A jewel thief who is wanted in connection with crimes committed from Florida to South Korea stole a diamond ring worth $255,000 from a Tiffany store in New York by switching it with a cubic zirconia replica, authorities said.

The theft took place on March 4 at a Tiffany store in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center complex, according to a criminal complaint filed by the district attorney's office.

Yaorong Wan, 49, asked an employee to let him see several pieces, including the quarter-million-dollar ring, according to the complaint. Wan left without buying anything and the employee put the ring back in the display case.

A week later, Tiffany employees discovered during a routine inventory that the diamond ring had been replaced by a fake with a cubic zirconia stone.

Police detectives viewed surveillance footage from the store and saw Wan slip the genuine ring into his palm and switch it with the fake, according to the complaint.

Wan is also charged with stealing a diamond ring worth $25,000 from a Cartier store in the Hudson Yards complex on March 12. In the second case he pocketed the ring and didn't leave a fake in its place, according to the complaint.

Wan was arrested Friday and arraigned Saturday in Manhattan criminal court on grand larceny charges.

He has open arrest warrants in New Jersey and in Nassau County on Long Island; is a suspect in thefts from Cartier stores in California and Florida; and also is wanted in South Korea on charges of stealing from high-end jewelry stores, Assistant District Attorney Eliana Ramelson said at his arraignment.

Wan's attorney, Amanda Barfield of New York County Defender Services, declined to comment Monday.