The Georgia woman and man accused in a violent spree of six jewelry store robberies across the Southeast could each face 20 years in federal prison if convicted. And the pair may have attempted an additional robbery, but a UPS delivery driver may have made the woman too nervous to carry it out, according to federal investigators.
Abigail Lee Kemp, 24, and Lewis Jones III, 35, were both arrested Friday in Smyrna and each charged with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida said Monday.
The pair’s arrests came just days after the FBI’s request for help in identifying the suspects believed responsible for crimes in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee, according to investigators.
In each robbery, employees were forced at gunpoint to the back of the store, where they were ordered to lie face-down while their hands were zip-tied behind their backs, investigators said. Then, the alleged woman robber, sometimes with an accomplice, removed hundreds of dollars worth of jewelry from display cases before leaving. Some times, the man would serve as the getaway driver or lookout, investigators have said.
Two of the robberies were in the Atlanta area, one in Woodstock and the other in Dawsonville. The latest robbery was Jan. 4 in North Carolina, according to investigators.
A seventh store, Reed’s Jewelry in Macon, may have been targeted Dec. 30, according to a federal affidavit. A UPS driver, however, came into the store, and the female suspected would-be robber appeared to get nervous and left, the affidavit states.
The FBI office in Jacksonville, Fla., has served as the lead agency in the investigation. A store in Panama City Beach was robbed Aug. 11, about three months after the string of crimes began in Georgia, according to investigators.
Surveillance cameras captured images of two suspects during the robberies, and numerous people identified the woman as Kemp, according to the FBI. The same Honda Civic also was seen near many crime scenes, and investigators were able to ping a cellphone that allegedly belonged to Kemp, investigators said.
Kemp’s initial court appearance was Monday in Atlanta. The next court appearance will take place in the U.S. District Court in Panama City, Fla., but has not yet been scheduled.
Jones was also charged with armed robbery for an alleged August bank robbery and was booked into the DeKalb County jail, where he was being held Monday night. Jones is expected to make his first appearance Tuesday in federal court in Atlanta.