Samantha Hayes reportingThis was no random robbery. Police say the suspects spent a lot of time specializing in this kind of theft, because the one-time pay off is so huge.
In the business of stealing, this is the motherload. One victim, one heist, $1.7 million.
Capt. Dave Burdett/ Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office: "The nature of this jewelry wholesale business is in itself pretty under the radar, if you will. These people frequently travel with a million, half million dollars retail."
Detectives say the suspects in this case, Carlos Lopez and Anthony Rivera, pinpointed a particular jewelry salesman, and then followed him while he attended to business around the Salt Lake area.
Capt. Dave Burdett: "You would not make this guy for a diamond merchant, but somebody had some information there. They obviously do their homework, and they've been quite successful."
In fact, when the victim pulled into a Draper hotel for the night, witnesses say there's a good chance he didn't know he was being followed.
Sara Tew/Witness: "There were a lot of people walking around, and I was with a guest when the man came in and he was on his cellphone and said, 'I've just been robbed! Call the police! Call the police!'"
Jewelry thefts of this kind are well known in police circles. In 1998 a jewelry courier, escorted by off duty police, was robbed outside the Ogden City Mall. Just a month before that, a similiar incident at Cottonwood Mall.
And cases like these have been popping up all over the country for years, which is why Salt Lake detectives alerted the task force in L.A.
Detectives there found much of the missing jewelry from last week's heist, and two of the suspects.
Los Angeles police say the two suspects are part of a much larger ring that has been targeting jewelry couriers for years.