Diamond ring theft at Bay City’s Herman Hiss halted by employee tackling suspect

BAY CITY, MI — Taken down by employees of a cornerstone jewelry business in downtown Bay City as he allegedly tried stealing a diamond ring, a Detroit man has now been charged with two felonies.

Antoine R. Rackard-Hester Jr., 21, on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 28, appeared before Bay County District Judge Mark E. Janer for arraignment on single counts of larceny from a person and first-degree retail fraud. The charges are 10- and five-year felonies, respectively.

Janer referred Rackard-Hester’s case to the Office of Assigned Counsel.

According to police reports contained in court files, officers at about 12:30 p.m. on Monday, March 27, responded to a call of a robbery in progress at Herman Hiss & Company, 905 Washington Ave. The caller said the would-be robber was being held down on the ground by a male employee.

Officers arrived and took custody of Rackard-Hester. Meanwhile, officers pursued a tan 2013 Ford Taurus with a temporary paper license plate witnesses said contained two female accomplices. Police eventually lost track of the Taurus and ended their pursuit.

Herman Hiss’ manager told officers she was suspicious when Rackard-Hester and a woman entered the store, as they were both wearing masks. She directed her employees to go to the front of the business to deter potential theft, she said.

After Rackard-Hester and the woman were in the store for about 15 minutes, Rackard-Hester tried stealing a diamond ring, she said. A 35-year-old male employee reacted by tackling Rackard-Hester and holding him until officers arrived, she said.

The employee in question, a sales associate, told police Rackard-Hester and the woman were looking for LEO diamonds, which he said are an expensive brand Herman Hiss does not carry. Rackard-Hester told the man he was shopping for an engagement ring, describing the woman accompanying him as his sister, the employee told police.

“It was very suspicious, but we walked over to the diamond rings,” he said. “I only pointed to the rings in the case at first because that is our protocol. Antoine began asking for 3- or 4-carat diamond rings, but we do not pull those out of the case.”

Rackard-Hester then said money was no object and that he was looking to spend $15,000 to $20,000, the employee told police.

“They made the comment that money ‘ain’t no thing’ and basically took offense to me for not pulling rings out of the case,” he said.

The sales associate eventually pulled out a solitaire diamond ring, which Rackard-Hester showed to the woman. The employee sized the ring on her finger, he said.

Rackard-Hester and the woman then conversed for several minutes, with Rackard-Hester asking her, “Do you think she would like this one?”

At that point, the woman ran from the store. Rackard-Hester was still holding the ring and also started to leave.

“I naturally just reached over and grabbed Antoine by the shoulder with my right hand,” the employee told police. “Antoine continued to pull away from me and run out of the store with the diamond ring in his right hand.”

The employee was able to get around the glass counter and put Rackard-Hester in a bear hug, he said. The employee said he twisted his right ankle in the scuffle but did not need medical attention.

Another employee said Rackard-Hester had his arm in the doorway as he fled. She repeatedly shut the door on his arm, causing him to drop the ring.

Rackard-Hester had $145 in cash on him but no weapons. Read Miranda rights, he declined to speak with police.

About 7:48 p.m. the same day, a woman called Bay County Central Dispatch claiming she had seen media reports of the incident and wanted to turn herself in. On speaking with an officer, the woman gave two different names for herself, police reports state.

The woman told the officer media reports were inaccurate and she wanted to clear her name.

“I already know I’m gonna get arrested,” she said. “Y’all are gonna have to come get me ‘cause I’m not coming back up to Bay City. I just wanted to let y’all know. I don’t have anything to say to the detectives. I’d rather y’all come get me, charge me, and we’ll go from there.”

Judge Janer set Rackard-Hester’s bond at $50,000 cash-surety. The date of his preliminary examination is pending.

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