Three masked men carrying handguns pulled off a smash-and-grab heist at a jewelry store in a busy Hillcrest shopping center Monday evening, police said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Monday’s heist was connected to the others.
The men sprinted into the open front doors of Bert Levi Family Jewelers at The Hub Hillcrest Market on University Avenue about 4:55 p.m., San Diego police Officer John Buttle said.
“One suspect held the clerk at gunpoint, while the other two suspects smashed two display cases and stole an unknown amount of jewelry,” Buttle said in a statement.
The bold heist was carried out at the bustling shopping center just east of state Route 163, which features Ralphs and Trader Joe’s, and where parking is at a premium. It took just 40 seconds.
Witnesses saw the suspects running west on University Avenue, where they were last seen getting into a champagne-colored vehicle.
Investigators had not said as of Tuesday afternoon whether they suspect the smash-and-grab heist is related to a series of recent armed robberies at San Diego jewelry stores.
The first happened Dec. 5 at the Jared store location at Camino De La Reina and Mission Center Road in Mission Valley. The same two men were suspected of a similar heist Jan. 12 at the Jared on Carmel Mountain Road and Highland Ranch Road.
A smash-and-grab robbery Jan. 19 at San Carlos Jewelers on Lake Murray Boulevard was not connected to the two heists at Jared, police said. But Monday’s robbery in Hillcrest shared similar characteristics to the one in San Carlos, including the number of thieves and the way they forced an employee to the ground at gunpoint.
Anyone with information about any of the recent robberies was urged to call the San Diego Police Department’s robbery unit at (619) 531-2299 or San Diego County Crime Stoppers’ anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.
4 p.m. on Feb. 12: This article was updated with additional details.
This article was originally published Feb. 11.