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Monday, February 25, 2002



Honolulu jewel caper
could be global

Police believe the thieves are
part of an international ring


By Rod Antone
rantone@starbulletin.com

Florida police have issued an arrest warrant for a suspected international jewelry thief whom police believe struck in Honolulu while posing as a bodyguard for a Saudi Arabian princess last November.

Nordine Herrina, a 25-year-old native of France, is wanted for allegedly stealing two diamond rings estimated at about $1.5 million from a retail jewelry store in Palm Beach where Florida police say he posed as a bodyguard or a member of Saudi royalty.

The warrant was featured on the Web site of the Jewelers Security Alliance, a group that represents about 19,000 jewelry firms nationwide. The Web site said that in Palm Beach, Herrina "palmed" the rings while making it appear as though he was placing them into a ring box, and that he was aided by an unidentified accomplice, described as a white female, about 26 years old with blond hair.

The Web site goes on to describe the "always well-dressed" suspects as "suspected by police of being part of a gang of international jewel thieves, operating since the early 1990s, who pose as members of the Saudi royal family. They have used business cards bearing the name 'Al Soud Saad,' and confuse their victims by rewarding sales associates with hundred-dollar bills for minor acts of courtesy."

The JSA and Honolulu police believe the same couple was here in Honolulu last November and attempted to steal close to a million dollars' worth of jewelry from Hilgund Jewelers in the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawaii hotel. However, they were caught by the store owner and another man who watched the sale from monitors in a security room.

As it was not known that the couple may have been part of an international jewelry ring, Herrina and his female accomplice were allowed to leave once the jewelry was returned.

The next day, Nov. 14, California law enforcement officials reported sightings of a couple believed to have been Herrina and his accomplice at different jewelry stores in San Francisco, Costa Mesa, Beverly Hills and Newport Beach. Police in Newport said the couple there got away with $505,000 in jewelry and also presented themselves as members of Saudi royalty.

Working with Honolulu police, Newport police later determined it was the same couple who had been spotted on Oahu, and are working on getting arrest warrants of their own.

According to JSA officials, the couple is part of a larger group comprised of Herrina and his brother along with two women, all of whom have played the part of Saudi Arabian royalty at one time or another. The JSA has said the group has struck about 30 times since 1994 and gotten away with an estimated $10 million dollars in high-end diamond jewelry.

Herrina is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, 180 pounds, with an olive complexion, black hair, brown eyes and facial hair. The warrant states that Herrina may pose as either a Saudi prince or bodyguard of a Saudi princess.

The JSA asks that anyone with any information concerning Herrina contact local law enforcement or the JSA at 800-537-0067 or 212-687-03328



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