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Manhattan Beach store worker scares off robbers with firearm

A group of masked, hammer-carrying suspects smashed into Manhattan Beach’s Prestige Jewelers for the second time in a decade over the weekend.

But this time, the thieves didn’t have time to pilfer an estimated $250,000 of Rolex watches and diamonds. This time, they got far less because of an employee.

On Saturday, five hoodie-wearing thieves smashed up the store’s jewelry showcases, according to Manhattan Beach Police. The worker pulled out a gun and fired on the suspects, eventually chasing them from the store, police confirmed.

In the previous robbery, two men were arrested after rampaging through display cases and jewelry boxes during a Sunday afternoon robbery in August 2014 that lasted less than a minute.

The only deterrence the men ran into that day was the screams of the store’s manager, which caught the attention of several nearby shoppers. She, along with others, called 911.

On Saturday, the suspects fled into awaiting vehicles and headed southbound on Sepulveda Boulevard while police arrived shortly after the incident at 12:40 p.m. The suspects are still at large.

No employees were injured during the incident, although police said “some jewelry was taken.”

No other information was provided. Police did not respond to calls about the number of shots fired or the value of the stolen goods.

Alexandria Latragna, a spokesperson for the city of Manhattan Beach, said police were working with store owner Abe Asmar to see if security footage is available.

Asmar offered no comment on the robbery.

The robbery came at a painful time for the Manhattan Beach Police Department, which lost motorcycle officer Chad Swanson in a crash on Wednesday morning. Swanson, 35, was a 13-year veteran and a Medal of Valor awardee.

Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery said in a statement: “In a time when the community is grieving the loss of one of our own heroes, our No. 1 priority remains steadfast in keeping the entire city of Manhattan Beach safe.”

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