Brazen mob of thieves wipe out Calif. jewelry story in under 3 minutes – cops nab 5 fleeing suspects

A Sunnyvale, CA jewelry store was swarmed by 20 would-be robbers armed with hammers who proceeded to smash the place up and steal merchandise in under three minutes resulting in five individuals being arrested.

The thieves all wore masks and knew exactly what they were doing. It only took about two and a half minutes after they shattered the front glass of the business to smash every display case with their hammers and steal thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. A manager witnessed the assault from his office Wednesday afternoon.

The incident occurred in broad daylight at approximately 1:27 p.m. at PNG Jewelers on 791 E. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, 47 miles south of San Francisco, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

According to KRON 4, after the robbery, the suspects hopped into multiple cars and took off. Officers gave chase but lost all but one vehicle which contained the five suspects who were arrested.

The owners of the store claim that in all the years it has operated they have never seen anything like this. It was brazen in the extreme.

(Video Credit: KRON 4)

“Two suspect vehicles were located by Sunnyvale officers and pursuits started when the vehicles evaded traffic enforcement stops, authorities said. On Highway 101 toward the San Francisco Peninsula, officers lost sight of the first suspect vehicle and abandoned the chase,” KRON 4 reported.

“The alleged robbers inside the second vehicle threw stolen jewelry out onto the roadway as the pursuit continued on Highway 101, Sunnyvale DPS said. Officers lost sight of the second vehicle and the chase was ended,” the media outlet continued.

A second vehicle was found by outside agencies abandoned on Highway 101 near Whipple Avenue in Redwood City, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. Five suspects jumped out of that car and ran across the highway into a nearby neighborhood where they attempted to hide. Four were found and arrested near Industrial Road and Britan Avenue in San Carlos. A fifth suspect was found and arrested with the help of K-9s. He was evidently better at hiding than his cohorts.


“The suspects were identified as Tonga Latu, Tavake Esafe, Ofa Ahomana, Kilifi Leaaetoa, and Afuhia Lavakeiaho. The suspects were booked into the 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,” the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said in its press release.

According to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, some of the jewelry that was stolen has been recovered. It is unknown exactly how much was stolen from the store and what it was worth.

“We extend our sincere appreciation to the California Highway Patrol, Palo Alto Police Department, Belmont Police Department, South San Francisco Police Department, and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance,” the press release stated.

“Investigators are working to determine if the Wednesday incident is connected to another jewelry store robbery involving multiple suspects that took place in Sunnyvale in May,” KRON 4 noted. “Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Thomas McKenzie at (408)-730-7110.”


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