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Jeweler thwarts robber

Originally ran here as:
"Robber's Threat 3rd For Jeweler"
Hartford Courant
January 06, 2002

VERNON, CONNECTICUT - The man who stole an engagement ring from Kosta's Jewelry this week was the third in about 15 years to threaten store owner Kostasdinos Agapoglou's life.

Agapoglou on Friday fired several shots at the man and chased him out of the store. The man fled in a stolen pickup truck, and is still sought by police. No injuries were reported.

"He had his hand in his pocket all the time," Agapoglou said.

Police said a man entered the jewelry store shortly after 4 p.m. and asked to look at engagement rings. He soon implied that he had a gun and, with a ring in hand, took off.

Agapoglou said the last time someone threatened him was about 8 to 10 years ago.

The robber Friday was described as black, 6 feet tall, about 30 years old, with short hair. He was wearing a black leather jacket.

Patrons of Janet's Nail Salon next-door said they heard the gunshots, which they assumed were cars backfiring, customer Laurie Hopkins said.

The fleeing robber smashed his vehicle into the rear fender of Hopkins' car, which was parked in the next space, she said. He sped out of the plaza and headed toward the I-84 entrance off Route 83, south of Vernon Circle.

Police found the getaway vehicle, a dark red Ford F-150 pickup truck, abandoned on I-84 just one exit west, near the Exit 63 off-ramp. The truck had two flat tires, police said. The robber had fled on foot.

Local officers were assisted by state police, who searched the area from a helicopter, and officers from nearby towns. A Vernon tracking dog lost the suspect's scent about a mile from the highway, police said.

The truck and marker plates had been reported stolen in East Hartford early Thursday.

Anyone with information about the incident should call Vernon police at 860-872-9126.

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