PLEASANT HILL, Calif. - It’s happened yet again. Another Bay Area camera shop held up by a group of masked men.
The latest takeover robbery happened at Mike's Camera on Contra Costa Boulevard in Pleasant Hill.
Five men invaded the store at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, just a half-hour before it closed. They forced everyone to the ground, smashed display cases and stole cameras and other expensive equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars.
"They were in, they were out, the made their point and they got some gear along with it," said Heather Shaw, Mike's Camera district manager for California. "It was all very fast, but it was very impactful. "
After the holdup, staff kept busy, sweeping, cleaning up and assessing the damage.
On Wednesday, the store was closed to the public. A sign on the door apologized to customers because of "unforeseen circumstances."
"I was probably going to spend, you know, probably like a thousand bucks on some audio stuff today, and I’ve been coming here for my 10 years as a videographer," said customer Mike Tebb.
Tebb said the stolen cameras will likely end up on the black market.
"I guarantee you’ll see all this on Facebook Marketplace," Tebb said. "They’ll put it up for 20 percent of the price so it will be gone so fast that like police won’t be able to catch it. It’s usually how this goes."
Tebb said he might visit the Mike's Camera in Dublin.
And it was at the Dublin store back in December when five men smashed display cases and ordered workers and a customer to the ground.
The robbers escaped with camera bodies, lenses and drones worth $80,000.
"A blow to one store is a blow to all stores, and you can imagine we have a lot of anxiety going on right now," Shaw said.
On Thanksgiving weekend, several armed men invaded the Leica camera shop near Grant and Bush in San Francisco. They also smashed display cases with hammers and made off with equipment worth $178,000.
"When something like this happens, it really sends a shockwave through the entire community. We recognize that this is not an isolated incident," said recently retired Pleasant Hill Mayor Michael Harris.