Detroit Man Pleads Guilty in Hammond Jewelry Store Heist

(HAMMOND) — A Detroit man has pleaded guilty in a smash-and-grab robbery during which he and two others allegedly stole more than $1 million in jewelry from a northwestern Indiana jewelry store.

Darren S. Bell

Darren S. Bell, 29, pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Hammond to a federal charge of armed robbery that interfered with interstate commerce.

The court hasn’t set Bell’s sentencing date.

Altonio D. Benson

Police and prosecutors allege that in January 2019, Bell, Altonio D. Benson, 40, of Detroit and a third unidentified individual entered a jewelry store in Hobart, located its most expensive jeweled pendants and began smashing display cases with hammers and taking jewelry.

All three fled the store with $1,009,145 worth of miscellaneous jewelry in bags, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

Hobart police captured Bell and Benson nearby and later recovered more than $500,000 worth of stolen jewelry as well as two sledgehammers left inside the store.

The third suspect escaped after he drove a minivan from the jewelry store.

Benson is awaiting a trial that’s now scheduled for March.