Lake Worth couple pawns $200K in jewelry for $16K, police say

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - The couple pawned $200,000 in stolen jewelry for a little more than $16,000 – quick cash, deputies say, for a quick fix.

On Wednesday, deputies arrested Lake Worth couple Klytia Benitez, 24, and Patrick Connolly, 25, on charges they sold Connolly's father's jewelry in 25 pawn transactions since March.

On Aug. 13, Nick Austin, Connolly's father, called police when he discovered someone had stolen much of his high-valued jewelry, including a custom Rolex President watch with a diamond bezel and blue face worth more than $10,000.

Detectives noted the approximate value of the stolen jewelry as more than $200,000.

But when investigators searched the RAPID property recovery system – a database logging every pawn transaction throughout the county – they learned Benitez and Connolly, who lived with Austin, got much less.

Between March and August, deputies said Benitez and Connolly sold jewelry 21 times at six pawn shops in Palm Beach County .

In total, the couple collected $16,496.

Detectives called Traci Levin, the owner of the Lake Worth Gold Mine, where the couple sold jewelry 15 times. There, they found the Rolex – the only piece of jewelry not melted down.

Austin later visited the Lake Worth Gold Mine with a detective and identified the Rolex as his own.

In store surveillance footage, Connolly carried the jewelry into the store with Benitez in tow. But when it came time to fill out the paperwork, Connolly stepped back and Benitez took over. She showed her license, signed her name and rolled her thumbs in ink to submit fingerprints.

Connolly took the money and stuffed it in his pocket.

On Wednesday, the couple wanted to meet with detectives after learning of the investigation – but they didn't have a ride.

Detectives picked them up in West Palm Beach.

In separate interviews, Connolly confessed, while Benitez denied everything. Connolly said he used the money to buy drugs. Benitez said she gave the money to Austin.

The couple remained in the Palm Beach County Jail Thursday in lieu of more than $200,000 bail.


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