Diamonds aren't forever: Global thief nabbed after Chicago gem heist

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An international diamond thief, who police say recently stole two large stones from a Loop jewelry store, was arrested as he tried to board a plane out of the country.

Tamaz Hubel, 67 and a native of Georgia in Eurasia, is accused of swiping a pair of diamonds worth $158,000 on June 6, according to a Cook County criminal complaint on file Monday.

The I-Team has learned that 2 ct. and 4 ct. gems were stolen from the headquarters of Ofer Mizrahi Diamonds, 29 E. Madison, a store that boasts "an inventory of up to 6,000 diamonds available at any time." It is located near Chicago's popular "Jewelers Row" section in the Loop.

Hubel was taken in custody on Sunday at Miami International Airport in Florida on a Chicago arrest warrant. Investigators say he was attempting to get on a flight to France.

The South Florida resident has a lengthy criminal record that suggests he is an accomplished, global gem thief. He has been previously arrested in similar schemes in Chicago and several other cities across the U.S., recently served a prison sentence in New York for jewel theft and is currently named in a request for extradition from Belgium.

In 2010 a diamond industry alert under the heading "Crooks Inc." pictured Hubel from a jewelry store security camera and warned retailers to be on the lookout for him. Hubel was accused of pocketing two stones worth $50,000 at that time under the alias name "Roman Rozzen" from an apparently non-existent diamond firm called the Rikko Company.

"Crooks masquerading as legitimate diamond buyers manage to get into your office ostensibly looking to make a purchase. Then, they somehow succeed in pocketing a few stones before politely leaving your office without buying anything," stated the 2010 warning from the International Diamond Exchange, an online exchange for professional diamond traders.

Ofer Mizrahi Diamonds did not immediately respond to a request from the I-Team for information about the theft and arrest. The company has diamond-cutting facilities in New York City, San Francisco and Israel, according to its website.

CPD officials say they had assistance from federal agents with the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and Miami-Dade police. Hubel is in jail in Miami according to authorities, awaiting extradition to Chicago.
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