Sledgehammers, cans of pepper spray and less than one minute were all four professional crooks needed to swipe $100,000 worth of jewelry in broad daylight from a San Carlos store Tuesday, according to sheriff’s deputies and a witness.
The men, clad in orange-and-black masks, apparently said little when they stormed the Home Consignment Center at 1123 Industrial Road about noon and smashed the cases.
“The only thing that was heard was when one of them yelled three times, ‘Time! Time! Time!’” said sales associate Tom Stout, adding that the man who spoke was the getaway driver.
The band of thieves drove up about noon in a newer-model Ford Mustang with paper plates, deputies said, and left the vehicle running while entering the store.
They were in and out “in less than a minute,” Stout said.
They each used sledgehammers and held cans of pepper spray, sheriff’s Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt said. A terrified clerk told deputies they were wearing “San Francisco Giants-colored masks,” said Rosenblatt, describing the masks as black with orange around the mouth.
No one was injured, Stout said, and the pepper spray wasn’t used. Stout said he wasn’t behind the jewelry counter during the swift heist. At first he thought a customer might have accidentally broken something.
“Then I realized what was happening, and I just tried to get the staff to hit the floor,” Stout said.
He said the ordeal was especially difficult for the woman who was behind the counter.
“They were right in her face,” he said.
The thieves fled in the Mustang, described as gray with two black racing stripes running down the vehicle’s center, and were last seen driving onto southbound U.S. Highway 101 from Brittan Avenue.
The four men — described only as white males about 20 years old with tall, thin builds — could be connected with incidents at two other Home Consignment Center stores in the Bay Area that were robbed during the past two years, Stout said. The shop sells high-end jewelry and furniture. Over the past two years, Stout said, Home Consignment Center’s stores in Corte Madera and Danville also have been robbed in a similar fashion.
“We think it’s the same folks,” he said. “The style of robbery is the same.”
He added, “The sledgehammers looked new.”
Deputies will look into the possibility of a robbery series, Rosenblatt said.