LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It started with the flicker of a light turned on at 1:27 a.m. on July 29.
Half an hour later, sparks and flames flew, glittering more brightly than the jewelry all around the store. Hours later, their work was done.
Fast forward the security video to the moments of truth. The owners opened the store, opened the safe, and opened the grief.
“They open the safe and everything is gone,” Lisandra Alvarez, of La Illusion, said. “More than $1 million in jewelry. Everything. Chains. Rings. Charms. Repairs. We had many repairs. Everything.”
“Whoever it was knew exactly the layout,” Abel Carralero, of La Illusion said.
More mind-boggling than the theft of $1 million in jewelry was the effort involved to steal it all.
“They had so much time that they didn’t throw this all over the place,” Carralero said. “They neatly stacked this on our work station. Then they cut through the wall.”
The thieves knew exactly what they were doing, cutting holes through multiple walls in multiple rooms, just missing large items like a toilet.
"So they had to come through the roof of the next-door business, through this wall, through that wall, through the next wall into the safe?” I asked.
“Yes,” Carralero said.
After such an elaborate, brazen heist, the people who run La Illusion in the Iroquois Manor Shopping Center thought it would be a solvable crime. But they were mystified and angered by the effort they experienced after they called LMPD.
“She was like, ‘Uh, there’s nothing we can do,’” Alvarez said.
They said police didn’t check for fingerprints and didn’t check their security cameras or those of other businesses around them at the shopping center.
“I told them there are cameras everywhere,” Alvarez said. “Like the main lobby, maybe we can see something. We have these cameras that take the whole parking lot and they didn’t want to look at them.”
“All these businesses have cameras,” Carralero said. “In my eye, if they would’ve tried harder they would’ve had maybe something. There was debris all over the place. They didn’t fumble through none of that, check anything. They kinda just looked at it like, ‘Oh they were good at what they were doing.’"
They say the thieves left behind their extension cord and several blades used to cut through the walls and safe.
“The extension cord was, I walked around and said this wasn’t ours,” Carralero said. “Where’s this from? Then the blades were laying right next to the extension cord. It was very obvious. They didn’t even try.”
So they tried to become their own detectives and took the evidence left at the scene around to different stores.
“I took the extension cord, Home Depot brand, and I got with loss prevention people,” Carralero said. “If you have any leads, because we found extension cords and a couple saw blades that were used and we were like, ‘If these things were purchased together anywhere, let us know or here’s our detective info, let him know.’”
They said after weeks of unreturned calls to their detective to try to get an update, they tried to go over his head.
“Then I finally got a call back from the detective,” Carralero said. “He says, ‘Hey man if you could please not call my sergeant 'cause it kinda looks bad on me.’”
“To me, it is because we are Hispanic people,” Alvarez said. “I mean we are not in a rich neighborhood because they didn’t care. To them, we are no one here.”
“You're saying if this was over at Oxmoor Mall, you'd be treated differently?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
I relayed all of their concerns to LMPD. A police spokesman said no fingerprints were taken because there were handprints all over the counter. As for the other complaints about cameras not checked and evidence not pursued, I got no answers, and LMPD refused my request for an interview. The spokesman said the detective assigned to the case has been and will be out of the country until June 15, and there are no new leads.
An intricate heist in a part of town where they feel like public safety is an illusion.
“I’m like, 'Man, we lost just over $1 million in product,” Carralero said. “It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s a big loss. We come into this country to work, better future, then we take a big loss and we don’t feel any support from law enforcement.”
The owners of La Illusion said they carried insurance on lost or stolen jewelry, but only up to $40,000.