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20 Armed Robbers Ransack Indian Jewelry Store in California’s Bay Area; Five Suspects Arrested

20 Armed Robbers Ransack Indian Jewelry Store in California’s Bay Area; Five Suspects Arrested

  • Armed with hammers, they smashed display cases and stole merchandise from PNG Jewelers in Sunnyvale.

An Indian jewelry store in Sunnyvale, California, was ransacked earlier this week. Approximately 20 robbers armed with hammers, entered PNG Jewelers, located at East El Camino Real, on June 12 afternoon and began smashing display cases and stealing merchandise, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (DPS). No victims were injured during the robbery. PNG is one of the oldest jewelry companies in India, known for its production of jewelry distinctive to Maharashtra.

The suspects fled the store in multiple vehicles before officers arrived on the scene, “but responding officers managed to spot two of the vehicles as they were fleeing,” DPS said. When the officers tried to pull both vehicles over, the drivers refused to stop, triggering pursuits, DPS said. Officers chased the vehicles through Sunnyvale and eventually onto Highway 101 toward the Peninsula. 

They lost sight of one vehicle, but when they were pursuing the other car, saw they saw suspects dump stolen jewelry out of the moving car. The suspects abandoned the vehicle on Highway 101, and attempted to flee on foot by running across the freeway and into the nearby industrial area, DPS said. Four of the suspects were taken into custody in San Carlos, while the last suspect was located nearby and taken into custody by a DPS Police Service Dog after he tried to escape. 

The police also managed to recover some of the stolen jewelry. The total value of the jewelry stolen is unknown at this time.

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The suspects, identified as Tonga Latu, Tavake Esafe, Ofa Ahomana, Kilifi Leaaetoa, and Afuhia Lavakeiaho, were booked into the Santa Clara County Jail and face various charges, including armed robbery, felony vehicle evasion, resisting arrest, burglary, and vandalism, DPS said.

Investigators are working to determine if this incident is connected to another jewelry store robbery involving multiple suspects that took place in Sunnyvale in May. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Thomas McKenzie at 408-730-7110.

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