Wanted jewelry thief attempts heist in Lebanon

Jacob Smith • Jun 12, 2018 at 5:26 PM

Shawn Smith, owner of the Jewelers in Lebanon, spoke of a nationally wanted jewelry thief who came into his store last week with what could almost be called a sense of admiration.

“This guy knows what he’s doing. He’s either familiar with the jewelry business or he’s done his business,” said Smith. “It’s nothing armed, nothing smash-and-grab, nothing snatch-and-run, nothing like that. He’s just slick.”

The thief, Richard Laracuente, came into the store a little more than a week ago and told Smith and an associate he wanted to buy some jewelry that totaled about $25,000. There were some red flags that made Smith wary of the customer, though.

“He knew all the right things to say, but something about him just wasn’t right,” said Smith. “He just didn’t know certain things that he said he was familiar with that he should have known.”

Laracuente told Smith he was working on the construction on State Route 109, but when Smith asked him about an accident that had closed the road, Laracuente didn’t know anything about it. According to Smith, Laracuente had him look up information in a jewelry catalog while he spoke with the associate about some pieces in which he was supposedly interested.

It was during this interaction, Smith said Laracuente usually made his move. While the jewelry store associate shows him the merchandise, he feigns a phone call and leaves the store. It isn’t until he’s already left when the associate realizes he was holding one of the jewelry pieces when he walks out of the store.

Fortunately, because of past thefts, the Jewelers has a policy to never let customers hold the items, only look at them outside the case. Since his scam didn’t work, Laracuente simply left the store calmly and said he would be back.

After Laracuente left, Smith thought the visit was so notable, he went on to a jewelers’ online network and posted about the visit using the contact information Laracuente left with him.

“I went home and did a little digging, and this cat didn’t exist,” said Smith. “I went and pulled up his picture, posted it on [the jewelers’ network], and within seconds I started getting hits. He was in North Carolina; he was in Texas; he was in Kentucky; he was in Oregon.”

Smith found out Laracuente is currently wanted in Washington, Oregon and Texas, and since he came into the Jewelers, he stole a bracelet in Georgia, tried to resell it to another store and escaped from police when the store called them.

Smith described Laracuente as about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, 170 pounds and about 55 years old. He was known to use the aliases Richard Myers and Richard Stevens when he goes into jewelry stores. He was last seen driving a grey Chevrolet Z-71 truck with a Harley Davidson in the truck bed.

Anyone with any information on Laracuente should call 911.

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