Woman steals jewelry from children to sell

Dec. 18, 2011 at 6:08 PM

SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A California woman has been charged with stealing gold jewelry from elementary school children to sell to businesses that buy gold, police said.

San Jose Police said Sandra Lizbeth Contreras-Velazquez befriended students at six elementary schools and then allegedly stole their gold necklaces, the San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday.

Contreras-Velazquez, suspected of committing the thefts from Oct. 18 to Nov. 16, was arrested at her home.

Police said Contreras-Velazquez approached children ages 6-8 on elementary school campuses during school hours and talked to them, posing as a family friend.

She gained access to school grounds by showing up with a toddler to blend in with other parents at busy pickup and drop-off times, they said.

San Jose Police officer Jose Garcia said Contreras-Velazquez would ask the students to remove their necklaces and show them to her, or would remove them from the victims' necks, sometimes replacing the victim's gold necklace with a costume jewelry necklace, the newspaper said.

She later sold gold necklaces to jewelry stores or businesses that buy and sell gold, police said.

"Realistically, with the price of gold, that was probably one of the driving factors," Garcia said. "That if she got enough of these little chains, it would add up."

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