Three weeks ago we reported that in what may have been one of the most brazen thefts in Manhattan's jewelry district, a man brazenly swiped an 86-pound bucket full of gold worth $1.6 million from the back of an unattended Loomis armored truck on West 48th Street in the Diamond District on Sept. 29, in broad daylight, as tourists and locals were walking in and out of the jewelry stores that line the block.
The whole incident was caught on closed-circuit camera.
The suspect, decribed as 5 feet 6 inches tall, 150 pounds and in his 50s according to the police, managed to get away without a hitch. The police suspected that the unidentified man was lying low in Orlando or Miami until things blow over in the Big Apple.
Overnight the police not only identified the man, but according to their latest speculation, the gold thief has moved on from Florida, and is now to be found as far away from NY as possible.
On Tuesday, NYPD identified the man as Julio Nivelo. He is now believed to be in Los Angeles. NYPD Det. Martin Pastor says Nivelo, 53, is a convicted felon who's known to the NYPD as Luis Toledo, among other aliases. He's a career thief who's been arrested seven times and deported four times to his native Ecuador, according to Pastor.
Nivelo, a native of Ecuador, fled to Orlando, Fla., before heading to California, WNBC reported on Tuesday night. Mr. Nivelo, who was living in West New York, N.J., at the time of the theft, had previously been arrested seven times and deported four times, the station reported.
Surveillance video from the the theft showed Nivelo loitering around the truck before one guard goes to make a pickup, and the other guard heads to the front seat to grab his cellphone. Those 20 seconds were long enough for the thief to strike: he goes to grab the 86-pound bucket - roughly half his weight - and makes a run for it, though he clearly has difficulty maneuvering it. The video shows the thief setting down the heavy bucket, putting it on his shoulder, then taking a breather. He takes another few steps and pauses again. The normally 10-minute walk takes him an hour. He then jumps into a van at 49th Street and Third Avenue.
The police released several photos of Mr. Nivelo. Nivelo was a man about town before the heist, it appears: photos show him posing at Washington Square Park and with a figure of the pope at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.
Loomis has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction, police sources said.
Below is the NYPD post seeking the public's help in finding Nivelo... and the $1.6 million in gold that is supposedly in his vicinity.
* * *
WANTED: Burglary (Manhattan)
The suspect has been identified as follow:
- Nivelo, Julio
- AKA: David Vargas
- 53 year-old Hispanic male
- 5’5″, 155 pounds with dark hair.
The New York City Police Department is asking the public’s assistance identifying the individual depicted in the attached surveillance video and photographs in regard to a armored truck burglary that occurred within the confines of the MTN Precinct. Details are as follows:
It was reported to the NYPD’s Major Case Squad that on Thursday, September 29, 2016, at approximately 4:30 p.m. an armored truck company making a pick up discovered that a 5 gallon aluminum pail weighing 86 pounds containing gold flakes (valued at 1.6 million dollars) was stolen from the rear of their armored truck. The truck was parked in front of 48 West 48th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. The unidentified individual is then seen lifting the 5 gallon pail from the truck and fleeing East bound on West 48 Street toward Third Ave. There are no reported injuries as a result of this incident.
The individual is described as a:
- Male Hispanic 5’6″, 150 lbs, 50-60 years old wearing a black vest, green shirt, blue jeans carrying a black messenger bag.
Surveillance video and photos of the individual were captured near the corner of 5th Avenue and 48th Street. The video shows the suspect fleeing with the stolen black aluminum 5 gallon pail.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
All calls are kept strictly confidential.