Southern Pines Zales robbed of $300K, employees tied up in bathroom

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Gilbert Smith (left) and Christopher Bethea.

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (WNCN) – Two men are now behind bars after police said they robbed a Southern Pines Zales of $300,000 worth of jewelry in July.

On July 28 around 5:40 p.m., a suspect walked into the Zales at Pinecrest Plaza on Highway 15/501 while brandishing a gun.

Two employees were working at the time the suspect entered the business. The suspect aimed the gun at an employee and ordered them to put the contents of the ring display case be put in a bag, police said.

The suspect then forced the employees into a bathroom where they were ordered to tie themselves up using ties brought by the suspect.

The suspect left the store with rings worth $300,000 and got into a vehicle waiting nearby, police said.

On July 30, Southern Pines Police were able to track down one of the suspects – Gilbert Smith, 57, of Fayetteville.

Smith was arrested in Laurinburg. At the time of his arrest. Smith had some of the stolen jewelry with him, police said.

A search warrant was later executed on Msith’s Fayetteville home where the rest of the stolen jewelry was located – except two rings.

He was charged with robbery with a firearm and possession of stolen property. He’s being held at the Moore County Detention Center under a $750,000 bond.

The FBI, along with investigators from the Horry County Police Department, helped identify a second suspect.

Christopher Demarcus Bethea, 42, of Hartsville, South Carolina faces charges of robbery with a firearm and two counts of second-degree kidnapping.

Bethea remains on the run.

“The Southern Pines Police Department has worked tirelessly to establish and maintain outstanding working relationships with law enforcement professionals, not only locally, but throughout the country. The manner and speed in which this investigation was conducted highlights the importance of unified law enforcement efforts. It is these relationships that will ultimately bring Christopher Demarcus Bethea to justice,” said Chief Bob Temme.

The Southern Pines Police Department is requesting the assistance of the community in locating Christopher Demarcus Bethea. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Southern Pines Police Department at 910-692-2732 or the Southern Pines Police Department’s Crime Tip Line at 910-693-4110. Anonymous information is always welcome.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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