Dozens of Rolexes recovered on highway after Austin jewelry heist

The suspect, believed to be Kenneth Cooper, in Ben Bridge Jewelers
The suspect, believed to be Kenneth Cooper, in Ben Bridge Jewelers (APD Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man suspected of involvement in an Austin jewelry store robbery on Jan. 11 has been identified and arrested.

Kenneth Dewayne Cooper, 27, has been charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, a first degree felony.

On Jan. 11, at around 10:55 a.m., officers responded to the robbery at Ben Bridge Jewelers at the Barton Creek Mall, located at 2901 S. Capital of Texas Highway.

There were two employees working at the jewelry store at the time. One told police at the time a man ran up to her with a gun and said, “Give me your Rolexes.” She started pulling the watches out of display cases and into the suspect’s pillowcase; she estimated she put between 20-30 Rolex watches into the pillowcase.

The two suspects escaped the scene in a Dodge Challenger, which was found on a Ben White Boulevard service road by police. None of the suspects were apprehended.

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, a man called Ben Bridge Jewelers and told an employee he had information on the person who committed the robbery. He later told police the person wearing the “Fargo”-style hat in the surveillance images was Kenneth Cooper. The caller said he had seen a Facebook picture with Cooper wearing the same hat. He also said his ex-girlfriend informed him that Cooper and his girlfriend were staying at her home.

On Feb. 15, Cooper had threatened to shoot his girlfriend, and was being held in the Harris County Jail. Austin police traveled to Houston on Monday, Feb. 22 and interviewed the suspect’s girlfriend. She told police that she was “extremely scared” of Cooper and the other people involved, and she knew of the Austin jewelry store robbery. The suspect’s girlfriend told authorities that Cooper had been angry because the Rolex bag they had hidden on the side of an Austin highway was empty.

In the affidavit, police say, at that point, they had not revealed to the public that the Rolexes in the bag had already been recovered along the side of S. Capital of Texas Highway, less than a mile from the jewelry store.

When an Austin police detective went to interview Cooper at the Harris County Jail, he said he has never been to Austin.

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