Suspect charged in $950,000 January Kranich’s robbery in State College

mcarroll@centredaily.comMarch 5, 2013 

— Rodger K. Williams was the self-described floorman, flashing a .357-caliber revolver and ordering employees at Kranich’s Jewelers to hand over the keys to the display case.

The 41-year-old Philadelphia man told police he and four others planned the downtown State College robbery, driving here in three separate vehicles early on Jan. 9, the day they hit the high-end jewelry store.

State College police said the crew made off with $950,000 in merchandise.

In charges filed Monday against Williams, police said the man admitted to selling his share for just $2,500 to $5,000.

Williams remains incarcerated near Cary, N.C., where he was arrested in late January during a similar heist.

At the time, local authorities said they had “significant evidence” linking Williams to the Kranich’s robbery. He and the others are believed by law enforcement to be suspects in a series of additional robberies.

After his arrest in North Carolina, Williams allegedly told Philadelphia police detectives/Federal Bureau of Investigations Violent Crime Task Force members that he robbed the State College business.

Williams claimed he met four other unidentified men in Philadelphia at about 3 a.m. the morning of the robbery. They drove to State College in three vehicles and hit Kranich’s around 10 a.m.

Local police said street surveillance cameras show at least two of the vehicles pulling behind the store on Calder Way and then leaving town on East Beaver Avenue minutes after the heist.

Store surveillance cameras show three men committing the robbery. Two had their faces covered — the third, later identified as Williams, was wearing a hood but had his face exposed.

Williams demanded the keys to the display case then robbed the store manager of his Rolex watch, jewelry and wallet, valued at $8,800, while the two other men looted the cases and safes of about $950,000 in jewelry, police said.

Williams can allegedly be seen slipping the manager’s ring on as the three men leave the store.

Police said Williams sold about 69 pieces, mostly rings and fewer than 10 tennis bracelets. Most of the rings turned out to be sample pieces, made from cubic zirconia stones and sterling silver.

Williams was arrested Jan. 29 as he and two other men were fleeing a jewelry store they had just robbed at gunpoint. The two others were able to escape and remain at large.

Local police said Williams was found in North Carolina with a .357-caliber revolver and a duffel bag matching the description of the one used in the State College heist — a Reebok bag with a “Crosby 87” logo.

Williams is charged with felony counts of robbery, criminal conspiracy, unlawfully possessing a firearm, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property, and misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person stemming from the State College robbery.

State College police said Monday that they still don’t have a time frame for when Williams will be extradited from North Carolina to face arraignment in Centre County.

In North Carolina, Williams was charged with one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. He faces up to 21 years in prison and is being held at the Wake County Public Safety Center, Cary officials said.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

Centre Daily Times is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service