SANTA CRUZ, Calif.- Surveillance video catches three men in the middle of an attempted robbery in downtown Santa Cruz Friday afternoon. The men, wearing black ski masks, try to rob a jewelry store, using sledgehammers to smash the glass, in broad daylight.
Police said is connected to four other cases in the Bay Area. Central Coast News went to the jewelry store, where the owner describes a terrifying scene as employees dropped to ground and took cover.
"We were all on the floor, probably six or so of us and I look up and three guys come in with ski masks on, all dressed in black and carrying sledgehammers and I knew exactly what they were going to do," said Dell Williams Jewelers owner Joe Williams.
Williams said he never thought it would happen to his store on Pacific Avenue. But just before 1:00pm Friday afternoon, three men pulled up in an Audi A7, stolen from an Oakland dealership two days ago. Williams said the three suspects ran straight through the front door without saying a word and went straight to the watch case, smashing it several times. But they weren't able to break it open.
"The noise started and they started smashing cases, took about 30 seconds or so and they were outta here," Williams said.
Police said the men left empty-handed and jumped back in the car, drove recklessly through downtown and along Highway 1, launching a county wide search. They abandoned the Audi on Fern Street, jumped into a getaway car with a forth suspect and got away.
"This matches the method that was used, identically in each of the other cases throughout the San Francisco Bay area," said Santa Cruz Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Clark.
Williams said the men pepper sprayed his employees. But that didn't stop them from yelling at the suspects, telling them to leave.
"I'm very proud of the employees, the way they responded, may not have been the safest response. But it worked, cause they left. I think they were a little shaken up after the fact. But in the heat of the moment they stood up for themselves," Williams said.
Police said they're looking for three black or hispanic males, all with baggy blue jeans and black ski masks. Two had on black hooded sweatshirts and the third was wearing a grey sweatshirt. Police don't have a description for the fourth suspect. If you have any information call Santa Cruz Police at 831-420-5995.