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California Family Jewelry Store Owner Urges Self-Protection After Robbery Foiled

California Family Jewelry Store Owner Urges Self-Protection After Robbery Foiled

Meza's Jewelry Store in El Monte, Calif. (NTD)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

9/5/2023

Updated: 9/5/2023

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Small business owners—including those at an El Monte, California, jewelry store—said an increasing number of smash-and-grabs are hurting their livelihoods, and authorities need to change soft-on-crime policies, after a family fended off an attempted robbery at their store Sept. 2.
Although no merchandise was taken, the owners of Meza’s Jewelry store at 10900 Main St., said the incident resulted in a considerable amount of damage to the store.
“[We lost] roughly like $10,000 to $15,000 [from broken display cases and other things]. It is a big amount especially because ... we’re not one of those big corporations. [We’re] just family owned,” one of the store’s employees, who asked for anonymity, told NTD Television, a sister media outlet of The Epoch Times. “We’ve been working so hard for this, so, we’re not going to let anyone grab our stuff and just take it like that.”
The incident happened about 2:20 p.m. Saturday, according to the El Monte Police Department.
Upon entering the store, the employee said, the suspect pepper-sprayed staff and started to smash display cases with a hammer.
“I saw this guy come in and [behind] him was my uncle covered in pepper spray. Then I see my dad, my brothers jump onto him [trying to stop the guy],” the employee said. “The first thing I did was to lock the door because I thought more people were coming in because there’s been a lot of reports that they crash and take everything ... in big groups.”
Surveillance video from inside the store shows the suspect was beaten several times by a bat-like object before he slipped out of his t-shirt and escaped. The video also shows employees chasing the suspect down the street.
Meza's Jewelry Store in El Monte, Calif. (NTD)

Meza's Jewelry Store in El Monte, Calif. (NTD)

“[Later], he runs away, and my dad and my brother were chasing him. [But] then they stopped because he had a gun in his possession,” the employee said.
Local law enforcement is working to identify the suspect, thanks to surveillance videos.
“We have tremendous videos and a lot of tips coming in from people who want to see this guy behind bars. So, I think it’s just a matter of time before we identify who he is and get him behind bars,” El Monte Police Lt. Aram Choe told NTD.
He added that police conduct additional patrols in commercial areas with jewelry and shoe stores, since they are frequent targets for potential robberies.
Alejandro Casillas, who owns a music shop across from Meza’s Jewelry, told NTD a customer informed him about the break-in.
“[When I] went outside. ... the owners and the owner’s family were already outside, with their eyes red and full of pepper spray. They’re putting water on their face and on their bodies, and the thief has already left,” Mr. Casillas said.
Such incidents, he said, puts a burden on small business owners to defend themselves.
Meza's Jewelry Store in El Monte, Calif. (NTD)

Meza's Jewelry Store in El Monte, Calif. (NTD)

“It’s a small family business, it’s their livelihood. So that’s why I think that they fought back,” he said. “In big stores, like at the malls ... the employee is making $12 to $15 an hour. He’s not going to risk his life for something that isn’t his.”
Mr. Casillas told reporters his store is equipped with security cameras, weapons, and pepper spray in case of such events.
In addition, he said elected officials need to step up and change the policies that have allowed such crimes to occur.
“First of all, [the government needs] to overturn ... the laws [on] zero money bail—[which] if somebody commits a crime, they could get out of jail without posting any bail. Second, they need to be tougher on crime. Before, they were tougher on crime, and there was less crime. And for the last ... four years, a lot of laws have been passed, where they’re more lenient on crime, and it’s only going to get worse,” he said.
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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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