Jewelry store owners charged with staging '08 heist

February 23, 2010 3:34:00 PM PST
The owners of a Diamond District jewelry store were charged with staging a brazen New Year's Eve 2008 heist by hiring armed bandits and dressing them like Hasidic Jews. Police say 48-year-old Atul Shah, of Closter, New Jersy, and 43-year-old Mahaveer Kankariya, of Norwood, New Jersey, planned the armed robbery of their own store, Dialite Imports, at 2 West 46th Street.

The men were charged with grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records.

The owners of the store were accused of staging the $4 million robbery of all their diamonds and jewels.

Police say Shah and Kankariya hired two men to play the armed robbers and dressed them up as Hasidic Jews to avoid causing suspicion.

The men they allegedly hired have not been apprehended.

Authorities say the owners planned the fake heist because Dialite Imports was six months behind on the rent and more than $1 million in debt.

Investigators became suspicious when the two got a new insurance policy just before the heist.

The robbery drew immediate comparisons to the 2001 movie "Snatch," in which diamond thieves disguise themselves as Hasidic Jews.