'The Case Of The Ratty Recliner'
Amy Thompson, defense attorney for William Balfour arrives at Cook County Criminal Court, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, in Chicago as closing arguments are set to begin in Balfour's murder trial. Balfour, is charged in the 2008 murder of Oscar and Grammy winning performer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) / M. Spencer Green
Detectives on the trail of $3.7 million in stolen Versace jewelry thought they had a break in the case when they got a warrant to search a Manhattan storage room — only to find a cheap, ratty green recliner.
The disparity in value puzzled detectives, so they opened the chair's upholstery and found the answer: a fortune in glittering gems nestled carefully into the foam seat padding and then sewn back into the chair.
"It was like finding pirate treasure," Assistant Police Chief Thomas Fahey said Tuesday. "This is a very significant jewelry robbery."
The assortment of heavy, solid gold watches embedded with diamonds, thick gold necklaces and massive rings were stolen from the Versace boutique on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the July 9 heist, Fahey said.
Police are searching for William Robinson, 33, the store's former head of security, who allegedly opened the store's safe that evening and walked out with the jewelry.
The theft was discovered the following morning by other employees, who noticed that all the shop's surveillance tapes also had been removed.
Detectives working on the case said they eventually learned Robinson had rented a storage unit in lower Manhattan under his own name — leading to the discovery of the chair and the jewelry.
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