A group of smash-and-grab burglars remain at large after ransacking a Pasadena store and escaping with over half a million dollars worth of jewelry on Tuesday.
Pasadena police received calls of the break-in around 1:47 p.m. at the Jewels on Lake store on the 400 block of Lake Avenue.
According to the shop’s owner, Sam Babikian, three masked men wearing gloves entered the shop and pepper sprayed him during the destructive burglary.
Images from the scene show shattered display cases throughout the shop as empty jewelry trays and holders lay scattered on the ground.
Babikian recalls the burglars attacking him as he was opening the front door to escort a customer outside.
“As soon as I opened the door, I got pepper sprayed right in my eye, my throat, my mouth, “ he said. “I couldn’t see anything. Then I could hear was smashing and grabbing.”
The thieves entered with hammers and began smashing and grabbing anything they could get their hands on.
Throughout the chaos, Babikian was able to make his way to a hidden panic button inside the shop, successfully contacting the police.
The one thought running through his mind was, “I hope nobody pulls a pistol and shoots around,” he recalled.
Within minutes, he estimated around $650,000-$750,000 worth of jewelry was lost during the break-in, although he has not yet taken full inventory to confirm that number.
As Babikian recovers from the attack, he’s thankful no one was seriously injured.
“Most of my merchandise is gone,” he said. “Most of the showcases are empty. This one hurts. I’m very grateful they did not harm me, they did not fight. Thank god that nothing happened to me and I’m still alive.”
Police said because the store operates on a door buzzer system, the moment Babikian was escorting a guest out was the perfect time for the thieves to overtake him.
Babikian has been in the jewelry business for 50 years and joined the Pasadena community in 2005. He said this is the first time he’s been burglarized since he started his business.
The incident remains under investigation. Police are reviewing surveillance cameras in the store and the community in order to identify the suspects.
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