Smash-and-grab suspects targeted a Beverly Hills jewelry store in broad daylight with sledgehammers, making off with up to $5 million in merchandise.
"I told my employee, ‘Get on the floor,'" Peter Sedghi, owner of the jewelry store, told the New York Post of the looting that unfolded Tuesday. "As soon as I heard what I thought were gunshots finally stop, I grabbed my gun. First, I made sure my employees were OK. I then went outside, but they were already gone."
At least five suspects wearing face masks used sledgehammers to break the glass of Luxury Jewels of Beverly Hills at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, according to police. Sedghi said it took the suspects eight or 10 swings of the sledgehammers to break the thick glass.
He estimates the suspects stole between $3 and $5 million, and "knew" which high-end items to take.
"We sell high-end jewelry and watches so they took big diamonds, big necklaces, Rolexes, Patek Philippe … they knew exactly what to take," Sedghi told the New York Post. "Thank God, no one was hurt."
A video shared by the group "Street People of Beverly Hills" showed the suspects running out of the store with the stolen jewelry.
A business owner next to the jewelry store attempted to stop the suspects, including kicking one of them.
"I look outside, I see, there are five guys with sledgehammers, axes, hammers, they're banging on the window," Wesley Aframian said, according to KABC. "And you know, we're a jewelry store, they're a jewelry store. We're good friends with them. They're very good people. I just reacted and tried to stop them."
Beverly Hills Police Department spokesman Lt. Giovanni Trejo said the suspect arrived on the scene in an SUV that was reported stolen last week from Long Beach. They fled the scene in a different vehicle. Police are working on identifying the suspects.
"The identification of the suspects at this point is not clear, even their genders, for that matter," Trejo said. "They appear to be males, but we have not determined that yet. Because it was so fast and quick, it’s going to take a little bit of time to make sure that we arrive to the proper conclusions."
California has been plagued with smash-and-grab crimes, most notably in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas over the holiday season.
Law enforcement officials have blamed the state’s Proposition 47 for the increase in the crimes. Proposition 47 passed in 2014 and reduced shoplifting charges regarding the theft of $950 or less from felonies to misdemeanors.