By Fiona Ortiz
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Federal authorities have broken up a Detroit-based gang that used sledge hammers to smash display cases and rob Rolex watches from jewelry stores around the country, and 17 members face charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Michigan said on Friday.
Crews from the Detroit area traveled across the country to steal Rolexes valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, federal prosecutors said in a statement on the indictments. They staged smash-and-grab robberies at stores in New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Mississippi, Nebraska and Connecticut, as well as Michigan, prosecutors said.
After each robbery, the gangs returned to Michigan, authorities said.
The arrests and charges came out of a federal and state investigation into some 40 smash-and-grab robberies around the country last year, and 25 such robberies in Michigan alone, between 2012 and 2014, the statement said.
The statement named 17 indicted defendants from Detroit and surrounding cities, all aged in their 20s and 30s. FBI agents could arrest more people in the case, the statement said.
(Editing by David Gregorio)