See How Many Alleged Thieves Joined Mass Smash-and-Grab Robbery of California Jewelry Store: Video

Nearly 20 people robbed a jewelry store in less than two and a half minutes on Wednesday, June 12

<p>Sunnyvale DPS</p> Afuhia Lavakeiaho, Ofa Ahomana

Sunnyvale DPS

Afuhia Lavakeiaho, Ofa Ahomana

A group of almost 20 people broke into a jewelry store in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Wednesday, June 12, and stole armfuls of jewelry in less than three minutes, the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said in a press release.

The thieves broke into PNG Jewelers, located at 791 E. El Camino Real, and smashed nearly every display case. After a two-minute and 15-second raid, they ran out with loads of jewelry, per the release. No one was hurt during the robbery.

On Friday, June 14, the store’s surveillance video was released. In the footage, two employees are seen at the front of the store, when they hear a noise at the front door and then move behind different internal doors.



Related: Woman Sought in 6 Jewelry Store Robberies Across the Southeast

Then, one by one, almost 20 people file in and swing hammers and tools to break the glass cases filled with jewelry before they put the pieces in their bags, police said. Quickly, they leave the store, and one final person stays back after every one to smash the final glass case.

One employee then emerged from her hiding spot and examined the room. Police responded to the scene around 1:30 p.m. local time and have not yet estimated the amount of damage or merchandise taken. Additionally, some of the stolen jewelry has been recovered.

The suspects fled the store in multiple vehicles before authorities arrived. However, the officers did locate two suspect vehicles as they were attempting to flee the area. The “officers attempted vehicle enforcement stops, but both vehicles evaded, leading to pursuits,” per the press release. The officers then followed the vehicles onto Highway 101.

<p>Sunnyvale DPS</p> Tavake Esafe

Sunnyvale DPS

Tavake Esafe

Related: $1M Worth of Jewels Stolen After Robbers Cut 'Gaping' Hole Through Adjacent Store's Wall

But once they lost sight of the first vehicle, officers ended that chase. Meanwhile, as they pursued the second vehicle, the suspects threw the stolen jewelry from the moving vehicle, and once the authorities lost sight of the second vehicle, the chase ended.

Shortly after, the vehicle was found on Highway 101 near Whipple Ave with five suspects — Tonga Latu, Tavake Esafe, Ofa Ahomana, Kilifi Leaaetoa, and Afuhia Lavakeiaho — who then fled the scene on foot, according to the press release. Four of the suspects were taken into custody, while the fifth was found by the police’s service dog.

<p>Sunnyvale DPS</p> Tonga Latu

Sunnyvale DPS

Tonga Latu

They are in custody at Santa Clara County jail for various offenses, including armed robbery, felony vehicle evasion, resisting arrest, burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, vandalism, possession of burglary tools, and outstanding warrants, police said.

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Mercury News reports that officers are investigating whether the Wednesday robbery is connected to a similar robbery in May at Nitin Jewelers, another Sunnyvale jewelry store.

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