Man who stole watches from outlets must serve time in prison

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A man who targeted watches during a string of outlet store break-ins from Florida to Maine will have to serve time in prison.

Forty-year-old Cuban national Alionis Perez pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges in May. He received a five-year sentence on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut and was ordered to pay restitution.

Perez, who most recently lived in New Jersey, led a group that in 2013 broke into Fossil and other outlet stores, getting away with more than $1.8 million in watches from burglaries in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida and Pennsylvania, according to prosecutors. The gang also broke into a store in Maine but failed to get any merchandise, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Perez and his gang typically targeted an outlet with easy access to a highway and parked getaway vehicles nearby. They said the gang would enter the store, disable the alarm and then leave to see if there was a response by the police or security guards.

They would then re-enter the store and steal the merchandise.

According to court documents, the three-month burglary spree began when the group got away with $250,000 in watches from a Fossil store in Clinton, Connecticut, in August, 2013. Break-ins followed at a Movado store in Kittery, Maine; a Fossil store in Miramar Beach, Florida ($170,000 in watches); a Fossil store in Hagerstown, Maryland ($750,000 in watches); a Fossil store in Grove City, Pennsylvania ($195,000 in watches); and a Michael Kors store in Lee, Massachusetts ($500,00 in watches and bags).

Perez also pleaded guilty to a separate conspiracy involving thefts of cash and sunglasses in 2014 from stores in Kansas and Tennessee.

Two co-conspirators also have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

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