Police Arrest 2nd Suspect in Swiss Army Watch Thefts

An investigation of the theft of over $1 million worth of watches was sparked by a complaint last year.

A lengthy Monroe police investigation into the theft of over $1 million worth of watches from Victorinox Swiss Army led to the arrest of a second suspect on Monday morning.

Mark Bancroft, 50, of Auburn Street in Stratford turned himself in on a warrant at 7:30 this morning. He is charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. Police said he was held on $150,000 bond and arraigned at court in Bridgeport.

Police said Bancroft, who owned Village Billiards, a pool hall at 588 Success Avenue in Stratford, was the main purchaser of the stolen watches.

Gilberto Nieves, 38, of Stratford, who was a product repair manager for Victorinox/Swiss Army at its Monroe warehouse at the time of the alleged crime, allegedly sold Bancroft watches "every couple of months" in bulk, for him to re-sell. Nieves was arrested last week.

The case, which was conducted over a year and stretches all the way to Texas, was opened after Victorinox/Swiss Army filed a complaint in October of 2011, according to Lt. Brian McCauley of the Monroe Police Department. At that time, during an inventory of the products located in its warehouse at 7 Victoria Drive in Monroe, the company discovered that hundreds of wrist watches were missing.

In January, a full count was completed and no discrepancies were found. Then random pieces were found missing over the next couple of months and, in September, another full inventory of the entire warehouse was called for due to the discrepancies. This resulted in the large scale discovery of the missing watches, with a total market value of $1,076,000.

The investigation confirmed the loss came from employee theft, police said.

As product repair manager for Victorinox/Swiss Army, Nieves had access to the new watches and the second hand watches. He allegedly devised a way to remove a small number of watches from the property without being noticed by the company security.

After removing the products from the Victorinox property, the watches were reportedly being sent to multiple locations in and out of state. Analysis of the facts led Monroe police to send a detective to San Marcos, Texas, to serve a search warrant. Having local jurisdiction, the San Marcos Police Department assisted the Monroe police detective with the recovery of thousands of dollars worth of stolen watches.

Information gained in Texas led to additional search warrants and recoveries back here in Connecticut, police said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also assisted the Monroe Police Department with some interviews until it was determined the jurisdiction would remain with Connecticut courts.

Additional arrests are pending, police said.

Christine E. September 25, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Jim, the article states that this has been going on for a long, long time. Could have been years.
jim laguardia September 25, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I think you are missing the point.... It is reported as $1,000,000 let me repeat that $1,000,000 I don't care how long it was going on, or how many they snuck out per day.... It is $1,000,000 worth of watches!!! What is their normal inventory at any one time?? To not miss let's say $500,000 of merchandise let alone double that. Why are they not making an Oceans 14 movie or something if they have that much inventory on site??
jim laguardia September 25, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Or wait even better.... If they have THAT MUCH inventory why don't we as a town tunnel in from the trumbull boarder that way we can pay off any debts, bonding etc... AND have sewer connections to that property so they can put a tax generating business in there?? :-)
Christine E. September 25, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Why is this so baffling to you? It's a huge company. Have you ever been back there? I can only imagine that they have millions of dollars worth of stuff between their walls on any given day.
jim laguardia September 26, 2012 at 02:08 AM
It is baffling because #1 I am not that bright and #2 what percentage of product loss would be excepted for a business owner?? Maybe 5%?? That means IF they had noticed after $500,000 (which it does not seem they did) was missing they would have have $10,000,000 of working (for sale) watches at any one given time?? I am not saying its impossible but it just does not make sense.


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