Stamford, Connecticut, police are searching for the man who stole a $27,000 Rolex watch from a jewelry store at the mall Saturday, pepper spraying an employee and security guard on his way out the door, according to police.
Surveillance video at Sidney Thomas Jewelry shows a man sitting in a wheelchair approach a glass case and ask a jeweler for help around 2 p.m Saturday. She shows him a couple different watches, which she hands over for him to try on.
After examining two watches and settling on a third, the man abruptly pushes back his wheelchair, knocking into another employee, then stands and bolts to the door, surveillance video shows.
"Before he runs, he sprays one of the clerks in the face with pepper spray, and as the security guard from outside comes in, he sprays him, knocking him to the ground," Stamford police spokesman Lt. Diedrich Hohn explained.
He said the employee and security guards were taken to the hospital after being sprayed and were later released in good condition.
Hohn said the first two watches were more expensive than the one stolen, valued at around $85,000 apiece. It's not clear why the suspect chose the one he did.
Surveillance footage shows the suspect to be a black man wearing a blue suit over a black T-shirt with a white design on the front. He’s sporting a black fedora-type hat and appears to be wearing glasses.
He left the hat and wheelchair at the scene, which police say will serve as valuable pieces of evidence. Hohn said investigators collected fingerprints from the wheelchair and are sending the hat for DNA testing.
Hohn said the employees were caught off guard and never expected someone who was wheelchair-bound to run off with stolen merchandise.
"It's pretty sad that someone has got to go to that length to try and steal a watch. He could have walked in and probably accomplished the exact same thing, but instead, he used a wheelchair."
Police said the suspect ran out of the mall and into the garage area, where investigators believe he got into a car and drove off, possibly with an accomplice.
Anyone with information is urged to call Stamford police.