NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was an armed robbery in Manhattan’s Diamond District on Sunday that was straight out of Hollywood.
Surveillance video captured the brazen suspects sporting handguns as they forced store employees to the ground before making off with some serious loot.
Police said the trio of thieves entered Avianne & Co. Jewelers on West 47th Street in the middle of the day. Though it’s unknown how much was taken in terms of actual dollars, just by looking at the empty display cases, it appears the business was cleared out, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.
The store’s employees told Fan police spent most of the day Sunday dusting for fingerprints.
As the revealing video below shows, two of the suspects are clearly visible and armed as they suddenly pull out their weapons and force store employees to get down on the floor.
Web Extra: Trio Sought In Manhattan Jewelry Heist:
The employees later told officers one of the suspects initially posed as a customer, entering the store at around noon. Police sources said at some point that man pulled out a gun and was joined by his accomplices. Together, they forced at least three of the employees to the ground before compelling another to open display cases and two safes where jewelry, including diamonds, were stored. The four employees, ages 15, 17, 20 and 39, were then zip-tied and duct-taped, though one of them managed to get loose from his bindings and call 911.
Fan spoke to one man who said he was eating at a nearby restaurant when a man claiming to be one of the victims walked in dazed and shaken, saying his boss had been forced to open up the safe.
“He said they stole like $4 million worth of retail. He sat down to eat. He ate like really quick … You could tell like something bad really happened,” Eli Arieh said. “He told us, ‘Yeah, we got robbed. It was crazy.’ He said thank God nobody was injured. He said he was happy to be alive.”
The store, which boasts a huge social media following, is known to create jewelry for celebrity rappers, including Kodak Black and Lil Pump.
Fellow jewelers said they felt uneasy watching the heist video.
“They weren’t wearing masks. They weren’t wearing gloves. They just expect to walk away from this thing. It’s hard to believe that they can get away with something like this,” Sammy Abraham said.
Diamond cutter Seth Whiteman said he walked past the store at the time of the robbery and didn’t notice a thing.
“They did it quietly. That’s probably it,” Whiteman said. “First of all, if they were on camera I don’t know what they were thinking. Second of all, the police are all over the place. It’s not a place to commit a robbery.”
Jewelers said the Diamond District is usually swarming with police and private security. There are also dozens of surveillance cameras. They believe the thieves struck on Sunday because most of the stores are closed, so there is less NYPD presence.
“This is a rare occurrence. It doesn’t happen that often. If it would have happened any other day I’m pretty sure they would have gotten caught and even now I think they’ll probably end up getting caught,” Abraham said.
Surveillance photos from a nearby business shows three men with duffel bags fleeing eastbound on 47th Street toward Fifth Avenue right after the heist. One is seen wearing a suit and a grey fedora. Another is wearing all black with a red bandana and a third is described as heavy set and sporting a Kangol hat. Store employees told CBS2 on their backs are stolen backpacks with the Avianne logo.
Police sources said investigators are using cameras in the street to try and track the suspects’ movements to a getaway car or to the subway, and that facial recognition software will be used to try to identify three men.