Authorities say a loosely organized network of thieves are behind two pricey jewel heists in South Florida.
In two separate heists over the past three weeks, about half a million dollars worth of gems have been stolen from jewelers traveling around South Florida.
Officials say the number of thefts could rise soon because the Jewelers International Showcase - the largest wholesale show in Florida - begins on South Beach Thursday.
Gem theft experts say that although the robberies may appear to be random holdups, most are actually part of a semi-organized crime network known as South American Theft Groups.
Law enforcement agents from around the country wull meet with jewelry heist experts in a closed-door workshop in Miami on Tuesday to discuss how to deal with the crimes.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)