Jewelry retailer target of armed robbery

SANTA BARBARA — Four suspects are currently at large following a brazen midday armed robbery of a neighborhood jewelry store Wednesday in which merchandise and cash of significant value were stolen.

It all started at 1:43 p.m. April 7, when a Hispanic man entered Joyeria Latina Americana and mingled with other customers who were in the store shopping. As the customers completed their purchase transactions and departed the premises, three other Hispanic men entered the store and loudly told employees they were there to conduct a robbery. At that point, two of the men brandished handguns and threatened deadly violence while the other two ransacked the store’s retail display cases.

During the course of the robbery, the store proprietor was bound with hands behind his back with audio speaker wire and held at gunpoint.

With loot in hand, the four men summarily fled the premises and are reported to have fled northbound on Milpas Street, in the direction of midtown Santa Barbara. According to police spokesman Lt. Paul McCaffrey, eyewitness reports indicate that they took off in a red station wagon, but that information remains unconfirmed and the vehicle has not been found. McCaffrey further reported that this is considered a crime of potential deadly violence, and that investigation of nearby residences and business was immediately conducted.

Of prime evidentiary importance, according to McCaffrey, is the store’s closed-circuit video surveillance recording system. Robbery detectives have released an image from that surveillance video which clearly depicts one of the suspects, identified as a Hispanic male wearing a white cowboy-style hat, dark mustache, long-sleeve pullover burgundy-colored shirt, black pants and boots, with a recognizable tattoo visible on his neck.

Other evidence is currently being gathered, including fingerprints on the store computer/cash register, which was lifted from its place but then dropped by the robbery suspects.

While not every piece of merchandise was stolen, Lt. McCaffrey indicated that the inventory loss was “significant” and that the proprietor and employees were “genuinely terrified.”

Santa Barbara police are asking the public to report any information regarding this robbery by calling (805) 897-2335.

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