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Kidnappers break into safe, take jewelry

Published Aug. 24, 2005

A group of young men kidnapped a 51-year-old man at gunpoint and apparently stole more than $100,000 worth of goods from his jewelry store later that night, according to police in St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park.

It appears that the men kidnapped the victim with a previously arranged plan to burglarize his store, but Pinellas Park police Capt. Sandy Forseth said officers won't know that for sure until they catch the criminals.

St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt said two men approached the victim, Lam Van Huynh, on Sunday night as he was about to enter his house on Tyrone Boulevard. One of the men aimed a handgun at Huynh, and the two forced him to get into his car, which one of the kidnappers drove away.

The kidnappers apparently coerced Huynh into revealing the combination to the safe at his store, B & K Jewelry in a shopping center at 7650 49th St. N, police said. The men let Huynh out near the Howard Frankland Bridge. He was unhurt. But later that night, his store was burglarized.

Pinellas Park police learned of the case when they received a call late Sunday saying the door was open at the store, which is in a shopping center with a Publix grocery that is busy during the day.

The Pinellas Park officer who responded went inside the store and found the safe open. It did not show any signs of having been broken open, Forseth said.

Forseth said rings, necklaces and other pieces of jewelry valued at more than $100,000 total were stolen.

Huynh could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Police did not release descriptions of the four men believed to be involved.

Two police agencies are working on separate parts of the case, because the kidnapping occurred in St. Petersburg and the burglary was in Pinellas Park.

People with information on the case are asked to call Pinellas Park Detective Mike Lynch, (727) 541-0797; St. Petersburg police Detective Jennifer Lich, (727) 893-4071; or the St. Petersburg Police Communications Center, (727) 893-7780.