Thieves use smoke bombs in Lambertville robbery

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. - November 9, 2010

It happened early Tuesday morning at Jim's of Lambertville Gallery on Bridge Street near Lambert Lane in Hunterdon County.

Burglars smashed through the glass front door. During the 2 minute heist they even set off smoke bombs and got away with a pretty good haul.

It was just before 3:00 Tuesday morning when two men smashed through the side door of the gallery, then systematically took a crowbar to 4 glass showcases and got away with numerous items of silver.

Jim Alterman, owner of the gallery, tells Action News, "[They] broke the glass with an axe and a crowbar, which they left behind. Then they took as much as they could, quickly as they could. They took sterling silver, antique silver, vases, tea sets, punchbowl, candleabra."

The fire department was called because the building was filled with smoke, but no fire was found. Police say the suspects discharged 2 smoke bombs to obscure security cameras and were in and out of the gallery within 2 minutes.

Lambertville Police Det. Sgt. Jeff Jones says, "They came right in with a mission, came right to the cases and were out within 2 minutes. Police were here in 3 minutes and they were long gone with quite a bit of property."

Witnesses reported seeing a van in the area and 2 men carrying bags walking up Lambert Lane. The Lambertville-New Hope Bridge was temporarily closed while investigators reviewed surveillance tape.

Office Manager Lois Altereman tells us, "Oh this definitely looks like it was planned. It's frightening how methodical they were and how they got in and out so quickly."

The interesting thing is that the thieves completely ignored the art here. There are paintings in this gallery worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But they went straight for the silver, which has skyrocketed in value over the last couple months to over $28 an ounce. Early estimates are at least $100,000 worth of silver was stolen.

Police are compiling a list of the stolen items and will be notifying dealers who buy silver to be on the lookout.

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