Security guard charged in jewelry theft after diamonds left in trash pile

A security guard in a Manhattan building where a $4.9 million diamond theft was reported last week was charged with taking some of the stones after workers mistakenly left the jewels in the hallway for trash.

Police say employees at J. Birnbach Inc. Fifth Avenue apparently thought the three wood boxes containing the stones were old, and so they left them in a trash pile in the public hallway.

The owner realized last Thursday that the jewelry was missing and detectives quickly concluded that the supposedly empty boxes actually contained the jewelry.

Police say a building security guard, 47-year-old Wilfred Martinez, was caught on building surveillance video going through boxes in the hallway on November 24.

He was seen rifling through the boxes, taking at least three diamonds, including a 17-carat gem worth $3.2 million, according to authorities.

Martinez has turned over the three diamonds, as well as $10,000 in cash. He allegedly sold $74,000 worth of the stones to other jewelers in the building and they are also being tracked down.

Martinez was charged with criminal possession of stolen property.

Bail has been set at $100,000.
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