The most brazen, fascinating gold heist of the year, if not the decade, is now closed.
Recall that in late November, we reported that in what may have been one of the most brazen thefts in Manhattan's jewelry district, a man calculatedly 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 suspect, described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, 150 pounds and in his 50s, 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. The whole incident was caught on closed-circuit camera.
Then, one month ago, the police said they had not only identified the man, but speculated that the gold thief had moved on from Florida, and may have fled to California. NYPD identified the man as Julio Nivelo, and was believed to be - as of late December - in Los Angeles.
NYPD Det. Martin Pastor said 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, before heading to California, WNBC reported. 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.
In the end, it turns out that Nivello was not in Los Angeles, but had fled all the way back to his native Ecuador, where, as NBC 4 New York reported, he was finally arrested according to law enforcement sources.
Authorities had been looking for Nivelo for months, with the manhunt leading police to Nivelo's residence in West New York, New Jersey, to Orlando, to Los Angeles before detectives from the major case squad headed to Ecuador. Nivelo was arrested there Thursday morning by federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations and The National Police of Ecuador.
He was arrested without incident after he sent the NYPD on a months-long search across the globe. It wasn't clear when he would be extradited to New York to face charges. Police say they have recovered some of the money.
Before he was captured, Jalopnik reported that Nivelo was a truck cargo-stealing veteran and mastermind. He had allegedly ripped off many other trucks before he finally hit the golden jackpot in September.
And so, as NBC 4 puts it, ends the saga of one of the luckiest, most brazen thefts to capture our collective imagination in some time. However, now that he has shown how easily it can be done, we expect the next such brazen "truck theft" to take place in the not too distant future.