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Smash-and-grab thieves hit jewelry store in Oakland's Chinatown

An Oakland jewelry store is determined to stay open even after a group of robbers stole nearly all the owner’s life savings in a matter of minutes.

The smash-and-grab robbery happened Wednesday afternoon at Phuong Jewelry Store, one of the oldest jewelry stores in Chinatown.

Video footage captured a group of six thieves, including one with a gun, rush into the store, violently smash cases with hammers and grab everything they could.

“Many, many people get in here and we don’t know what to do,” owner Diane Trinh said. “I feel scared. Even right now, my heart is still hurt.”

The robbery happened at about 12:30 p.m. just as the store was opening. As Trinh ducked for cover, she yelled for her husband, who came out with a gun. It was enough to scare the robbers out of the door but not before stealing the store’s most expensive inventory.

“They took the special diamonds right here,” Trinh said. “They took a lot. Then gold, 18 karat gold, 34 karat gold.”

Trinh’s son, Tony, said the thieves “knew exactly what they wanted.”

“They went after the main core items that is pretty much 85 to 90% of the value of our entire inventory,” he said.

The group got in after Trinh said one man pretended to be a customer.

In total, she said nine people were involved.

She also said the chaos is bringing back trauma for the family. Trinh’s father was shot and killed in a break-in at the same store in the 1990s.

“We didn’t lose lives and it wasn’t as brazen,” Tony said. “It was two men. But it definitely brought back that.”

Tony is the executive director of Oakland’s Chinatown Improvement Council. He said the break-in also brings an added burden because the store is no longer insured.

“Insurance costs so much with jewelry, especially in Oakland Chinatown,” he said. “A lot of businesses here don’t even qualify.”

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the 40-year-old store recover and keep its doors open, something customers said is critically important for the entire community.

“Hopefully they stay,” customer Joey Golaw said. “It will be a big loss for the city and for the people like us who come here year in and year out.”

As the family works to keep their legacy alive, they said they are committed to not letting crime drive them out of Oakland.

“I think we need to be strong,” Tony said. “Things happen for a reason. Our family has suffered, but we have just been inundated with so much love and so much support.”


Source: NBC Bay Area

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