Employees at Manhattan’s J. Birnbach jewelry store made a $5 million mistake last week when they accidentally threw out a trove of the Fifth Avenue retailer’s precious diamonds.
Police initially attributed the missing gems -- one of which turned out to be worth a cool $3.2 million -- to a robbery. Owner Jonathan Birnbach told authorities he’d left a safe unlocked for easy access, with the diamonds stowed away in three unsuspecting wooden boxes.
But today, the New York Post reports that authorities determined employees accidentally threw the boxes in the trash in the midst of a move. The story took an even stranger turn as a security guard happened to go trash-diving and unearthed the gems, whereupon he allegedly sold some to another jeweler in the same building for $10,000 in cash. He allegedly kept the largest and most valuable 17-carat stone.
After witnessing the discovery and sale on surveillance footage, police arrested the guard, 47-year-old Wilfred Martinez, and charged him yesterday with criminal possession of stolen property. Police recovered the $3.2 million stone, along with two smaller diamonds and $10,000. Investigators are still trying to track down the rest of the diamonds.