PROVO Two businessmen chased a jewel thief for blocks after he stole a few high-priced Rolex watches, then wrestled him down and held him in a headlock until Provo police officers arrived Tuesday night, witnesses said.
Jeweler Kent Flowers, 56, said he laid out three gleaming Rolex watches valued at more than $75,000 on the counter at Losee Jewelers at 2230 N. University Parkway at the request of a 31-year-old customer from Tampa, Fla.
"Then (after momentarily inspecting them) he just looked up at me and bolted," said Flowers, who took off after the man.
As Flowers and the man reached the parking lot, Rusty Johnson, manager of nearby Best Western Cottontree Inn, spotted the chase and quickly joined the pursuit.
The two businessmen followed the man through snow-packed streets, over snowbanks and over fences, according to police and witnesses.
"The man just disappeared," Flowers said.
Flowers and Johnson quickly adjusted their approach and became trackers. They soon found and followed the man's snow tracks to his hiding spot behind a power transformer near a Shopko store.
While Johnson grabbed the man's ankle, Flowers completed the tackle, wrapping up the man's legs.
"He was saying 'You're hurting me, I can't breathe,"' Flowers said. "(Johnson) had him in a pretty good headlock there."
According to a 4th District Court affidavit, the man is considered a flight risk and received a stiffer-than-usual judge's decision: $20,000 cash-only bail.
All three watches were recovered, but two sustained damage estimated at about $2,000.