DETROIT (AP) – Federal authorities in Detroit have charged 19 people in a brazen scheme to steal watches and other valuable jewelry from stores in 22 states.

The FBI describes the thefts as “grab and go,” with the robber snatching the item from an employee, rushing out the door and giving it to someone in a getaway car. The incidents began in 2006 in Beechwood, Ohio, where a diamond worth nearly $20,000 was stolen.

The FBI says the valuables typically were brought to Detroit and sold at three pawn shops. At least one of the shops was recently searched by agents. The total value of the stolen goods is estimated at $1.2 million.

The 19 defendants are charged with conspiracy, interstate transportation of stolen property and aiding and abetting.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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