Update: Dominic Conte on April 11, 2022, pleaded no contest to grand theft, a third degree felony, and trespassing on school property, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Terence Perkins to 18 months on probation. Adjudication was withheld, so he will not be a convicted felon if he completes the probation term satisfactorily. Probation may not be ended early. He is to have no contact with Kay Jewelers.
January 17, 2022—Miscalculation is the bane of would-be criminals. Dominic Conte, a 20-year-old resident of Weybridge Lane in Ponte Vedra, told authorities he targeted Kay Jewelers in the Target shopping center in Palm Coast because he figured it would have fewer customers and stays open later. He may have been right. But he did not figure on 24-hour policing.
Conte is at the Flagler County jail, facing a felony grand theft charge and two misdemeanor charges, including trespassing on Flagler Palm Coast High School’s campus during his alleged attempt to evade Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies.
Conte entered Kay Jewelers around 7 p.m. Sunday evening (Jan. 16). He was wearing a face mask, allegedly–with emphasis on allegedly, in this case–as a covid safeguard. According to his arrest report, Conte, who has the look of a featherweight and appears to have an equally weighty imagination, told a store employee and a store manager that he was a professional boxer, had just won three fights, and wanted to buy a necklace.
The employee did what he would do with any inquiring customer. He pulled out a $10,000 Cuban link necklace and handed it to Conte to try on, walking around the counter to help him clasp on the chain. Conte said he didn’t need any help. So the employee walked back around.
Conte took off.
The employee chased after him. Conte was heading toward McDonald’s. But at some point the employee lost sight of him. A description was dispatched through the 911 center, including the fact that the thief was seen running toward FPC, where not long afterward sheriff’s deputies spotted him in the gym parking lot. He again took off, but by the time he reached the area of the cafeteria he realized the bout was over. He surrendered, got on his stomach and obeyed all commands. Deputies found the necklace in his jeans pocket. The Kay Jewelers tag was still attached.
Deputies took him back to the jewelry shop. The two employees identified him. A deputy examined video surveillance from the shop as well, showing Conte fleeing out of the store, with necklace, at 7:03 p.m.
“This thief thought he would come into our community thinking one of our businesses would be an easy target,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release. “However, the quick thinking of the employees and our deputies made this [alleged] crook an easy catch.” Conte is being held on $6,500 bond.
Kay Jewelers is a recurring target of theft and robberies, the last such occurring in October 2020, when then-30-year-old Tyrone Hunter was accused of snatching a $7,900 gold necklace. Hunter is scheduled for docket sounding, the last step before trial, on Feb. 1, on the third-degree felony charge. He had traveled from St. Augustine. He is awaiting trial on $50,000 bond, which he has posted.
The shop was robbed by two men in August 2018, getting away with $22,000-worth of jewelry. Tyrone Lamar Walker was charged with armed robbery, a first degree felony, in early January 2019. His case is still pending.