Police have arrested one of two suspects accused of robbing Southern Pines Zales Jewelry store at gunpoint on July 28 and is requesting the public’s help locating the second suspect.

Gilbert Smith, 57, of Fayetteville, was taken into custody without incident two days later, according to a news release from Southern Pines Police Department. 

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An armed robbery occurred at Zales Jewelry store located in Pinecrest Plaza on Highway 15/501 in Southern Pines ~ Sandhills Sentinel.

“At the time of this robbery, two employees were working in the store,” said the news release. “A black male, upon entering the store, pointed a firearm at one victim and demanded that the contents of the ring counter be placed in a bag. The suspect then moved the employee to a bathroom along with a second employee and ordered the employees to secure themselves with nylon ties that were brought by the suspect. The armed suspect fled the store to a waiting vehicle, with numerous rings valued in excess of $300,000.”

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Authorities investigating the scene on July 28 ~ Sandhills Sentinel.

Smith was in possession of some of the stolen property at the time of his arrested in Laurinburg and was placed in the Moore County Detention Center under a $750,000 secured bond. He was charged with robbery with a firearm and possession of stolen property.

Southern Pines and Fayetteville Police Departments searched Smith’s home with a warrant and found the remaining stolen goods with the exception of two rings.

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Officials working the crime scene where over $300,000 in rings were stolen ~ Sandhills Sentinel.

A multi-agency investigation to include the FBI, Horry County Crime Scene Investigation Unit, South Carolina Police Department, and investigators with Southern Pines Police Department has continued their investigation in the northern counties of South Carolina.

An arrest warrant has been issued from the investigation for Christopher Demarcus Bethea, 42, of Hartsville, South Carolina for the charges of robbery with a firearm and two counts of second degree kidnapping.

“The Southern Pines Police Department has worked tirelessly to establish and maintain outstanding working relationships with law enforcement professionals, not only locally, but throughout the country,” said Southern Pines Police Chief Robert Temme. “The manner and speed in which this investigation was conducted highlights the importance of unified law enforcement efforts. It is these relationships that will ultimately bring Christopher Demarcus Bethea to justice.”

If anyone knows the location of Bethea, please contact the Southern Pines Police Department at 910-692-2732 or the crime tip line at 910-693-4110. Anonymous information can be made.

~ Written by Sandhills Sentinel Editor Lori McFarland.

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