SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- A small jewelry store in Eastridge Center in San Jose is the latest business to be hit in a wave of smash-and-grabs plaguing the Bay Area.
The owner of Quick Service Jewelry, who wanted to remain anonymous, told KPIX that five people wearing masks, hoodies and gloves walked into his store around 2:50 p.m. and smashed display cases and grabbing everything they could.
The gang of thieves was in and out in about 15 seconds, never speaking a word, the owner said.
The store is located near an entrance to the mall, giving the thieves an avenue to flee the area quickly before officers arrived.
"I just screamed and said, 'help, help, help,'" the owner said. "It scared me to death! I'm worried and I'm being alert but, honestly, I don't know what else to do."
The owner, who has been at Eastridge Center for 20 years, said this is the first time thieves have nearly wiped out his modest-size store.
His is not the only jewelry store that has been robbed in recent weeks.
J & Huss Jewelry was also the victim of a smash-and-grab. That store's owner, who also wanted to remain anonymous, told KPIX that the crime trend has forced him to lock his doors and screen customers before he allows them into his shop.
Last week, he said he believes thieves attempted to rob him again but quickly moved on when they tried to open the door and realized it was locked.
Other jewelry stores inside the mall are taking matters into their own hands to protect their products. The shops are now closing half of the entrances to their shops so that if they get hit only one side is easily accessible instead of their entire store.
The mall has surveillance cameras and business owners are hoping the footage helps police catch the thieves before they strike again.
The wave of robberies has spanned the entire Bay Area. San Francisco police made multiple arrests recently in a brazen smash-and-grab at the Louis Vuitton store where about 40 thieves stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise. An estimated 80 robbers ransacked a Nordstrom in Walnut Creek. Stores in Palo Alto, Concord and San Jose have also been hit.
Seven Bay Area district attorneys, including Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen, announced they'd formed an alliance to prosecute retail robbers. The stance, they said, would make cases against the suspects stronger as it moves through the judicial system.
Despite his fears, the owner of Quick Service Jewelry Repair said he has no choice but to keep his doors open or his family won't be able to eat.
"Of course I'm afraid," he said. "Look, if I'm not working, I can't support my family. If I don't work, how can I put food on the table?"
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