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$150K heist unravels

Courtney Astolfi • Jun 2, 2014 at 6:22 PM

The   alleged mastermind behind last week’s jewelry heist on Sandusky’s west end was arrested over the weekend in Virginia Beach.

Mohammad Hamad, 26, formerly of Stonewood Drive, was charged with complicity to kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and theft, all first-degree felonies.

Officials have yet to arrest the two men who actually committed the offense and are still working to identify them, Sandusky police Detective Gary Wichman said.    Nellie Lee Dauch, a Pinewood Drive resident in her 70s, was getting ready for work May 14 when two men stormed her garage, bound her with duct tape and robbed her of numerous rings, necklaces and other baubles.

The men made off with nearly $150,000 worth of Dauch’s jewelry, Wichman said

One thing was clear: Dauch was specifically targeted for her pricey accessories.

During the course of their investigation, Sandusky police learned Dauch may have escaped two prior robbery attempts, Wichman said.

First, on May 12, a man approached Dauch and asked her to help search for his lost dog. But Dauch’s neighbor soon arrived and before long, the man had disappeared from the neighborhood, Wichman said.

At about 7:30 a.m. May 13, a neighbor saw a suspicious vehicle parked in their semiprivate neighborhood with two people inside.

“She had enough presence of mind to realize the (vehicle) did not belong there. She stood there at her door and memorized it in case something happened,” Wichman said.

That same vehicle — a 2001 Mercedes Benz — reappeared the day of the robbery. A witness saw the vehicle drop off two people in Dauch’s neighborhood at about 7 a.m. that day.

Witnesses also saw the vehicle a short while later near Bardshar Road, the same place police dogs lost the scent of the two alleged robbers who attacked Dauch.

Wichman learned Hamad knew Dauch as a family friend, and he’d worked for Dauch’s family business in the past.

But not only did Hamad know Dauch through his former job — Hamad’s father, Mike Hamad, had done almost all the custom work on Dauch’s jewelry.

Mike told the Register he’s been essentially estranged from his son for the past few years, citing Hamad’s addiction to pills.

"My son or not, if someone commits a crime and is guilty, they should go to jail” Mike said.

“(Dauch) is a very dear friend of mine and my family. She’s come to Thanksgiving dinner and has come to eat at my house at Christmastime,” Mike said. “My sympathy goes to (Dauch) and her family and anyone that got affected”

With Mike’s help, Wichman was able to estimate the total value of jewelry stolen and was also able to track Hamad to Virginia Beach. He was arrested there Saturday and returned to Erie County late Monday night.

Wichman is still working to identify Hamad’s alleged accomplices.

Hamad remains in the Erie County jail on $240,000 bond.

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