Jewelry store overwhelmed in shocking Bay Area smash & grab robbery

Video of a shocking smash and grab robbery shows the moment a Sunnyvale jewelry store is overwhelmed by suspects armed with tools and hammers. 

The incident took place at PNG Jewelers on Wednesday afternoon. The store is located at 791 E. El Camino Real. Police said at least five people have been arrested, but they are looking for more suspects. 

The surveillance video's timestamp shows the robbery happened just before 12:30 p.m. Well over a dozen suspects, clad in black clothing, barge into the store and begin smashing the glass counters as they ransack the place. 

Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said their officers responded to a report of a robbery in progress and that approximately 20 suspects were involved. 

"The suspects fled the store in multiple vehicles before officers arrived on scene. Officers located two suspect vehicles as they were attempting to flee the area," Sunnyvale DPS said in a news release. 

Two vehicles managed to evade police who attempted to stop them, which led to pursuits. 

Police said they chased the suspects onto Highway 101 towards the Peninsula. Police lost sight of the first vehicle. The second vehicle discarded stolen jewelry from the vehicle during the pursuit, police said. 

Police also lost sight of the second vehicle. However, a police department providing mutual aid located the second suspect vehicle as it was abandoned on Highway 101 along Whipple Avenue. 

Police said the five suspects from that car fled on foot and ran across the freeway into a nearby industrial area in San Carlos where four of them were caught. The fifth suspect was eventually taken into custody in a nearby area when a police K-9 unit caught up with him. 

Police have identified those suspects as; Tonga Latu, Tavake Esafe, Ofa Ahomana, Kilifi Leaaetoa, and Afuhia Lavakeiaho. 

The suspects were booked into Santa Clara County Jail for armed robbery, felony vehicle evasion, resisting arrest, burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, vandalism, possession of burglary tools and for outstanding warrants. 

The surveillance video shows display cases being emptied into bags and backpacks brought by the suspects whose faces are shrouded by masks and hoods. 

It is not clear if there was anyone working inside the store at the time of the robbery. 

The California Highway Patrol, Palo Alto Police Department, Belmont Police Department, South San Francisco Police Department and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office all provided assistance in this case. 

Police said the case remains under investigation and that investigators are checking to see if the suspects involved were also involved in a Sunnyvale jewelry store robbery in May that also saw multiple suspects. 


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