Four suspects who had likely been following a group returning from a diamond trade show in Chicago stole more than a half-million dollars' worth of jewelry from their vehicle at an Interstate-90 rest area early Monday morning, Olmsted County officials say.
"This appears to be a high-level robbery by people who knew what they were doing," Capt. Scott Behrns said, according to the Rochester Post Bulletin. "We believe the victims were followed from the show in Chicago" and were robbed at the suspects' first opportunity.
Although the victims appeared to have been followed for at least six hours, they didn't notice anything suspicious until they got to the rest area, Behrns told the newspaper, adding the suspects were "very patient."
The seven victims had stopped at the Marion rest area, located between Eyota and Rochester. Two of the victims stayed in the vehicle while the others used the facilities. That's when the suspects, believed to be men, pulled up behind their vehicle, jumped out and began smashing the car's windows, Behrns said, according to ABC 6.
The suspects grabbed three or four suitcases from the vehicle, which were filled with gold and silver jewelry and loose diamonds, valued at more than $500,000, KTTC reports.
Before the suspects could drive away, the victim behind the wheel backed their vehicle into the van in an attempt to stop them, but the suspects took off westbound on I-90, ABC 6 notes. Police found the van in a ditch, but there was no sign of the suspects, reports say.
Because the robbery seems to have spanned several states, the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office is seeking help from the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, reports say.
Behrns isn't releasing any more details about the victims out of concerns for their safety. No arrests have been made.