A quick-moving crook capitalized on a 20-second window of distraction by armored truck guards in bustling midtown Manhattan to steal a bucket of gold flakes worth nearly $1.6 million, surveillance video obtained exclusively by NBC 4 New York shows.
The theft happened in broad daylight on a September afternoon on West 48th Street. Surveillance video shows a man loitering, keeping watch on an armored truck.
Then one guard leaves to make a pickup, and the other guard heads to the front seat to grab his cellphone. Those 20 seconds were long enough for the thief to strike. He goes to grab the 86-pound bucket and makes a run for it, though he clearly has difficulty maneuvering it.
"I think he just saw an opportunity, took the pail and walked off," said NYPD Det. Martin Pastor, who's overseeing the investigation. Police believe the man had no clue what was inside the bucket.
The video shows the thief setting down the heavy bucket, putting it on his shoulder, then taking a breather. He takes another few steps and pauses again. The normally 10-minute walk takes him an hour. He then jumps into a van at 49th Street and Third Avenue.
Police believe the man is hiding out in the Orlando or Miami area with the bucket of gold -- something Pastor believes the thief never knew until he opened it up.
"I think when the lucky charm opened up the bucket, he seen the rainbow and seen the gold."