Sledgehammers used in daring daytime jewelry heist

Smash and grab happens in Rice Village

HOUSTON - Robbers shattered glass, breaking through a jewelry store's windows with sledgehammers in the middle of the day in a brazen smash and grab at Rice Village.

Witnesses said four men armed with sledgehammers started pounding through the windows at Rice Village Diamonds around noon on Wednesday, when Rice Village was bustling with people.

"We specialize in diamond jewelry. That's what they went for and that's what they got," said employee Jeff Robichau, who was sitting at his desk inside the store when, he said, he heard the glass behind him break.

"Let's smash the windows and takes as much as we can get," said Robichau, describing what he believed the robbers' intentions were. "There was still jewelry left in the window. They didn't get everything."

Investigators said the robbers hit the windows about four times each with the sledgehammers, but Robichau said what prevented them from getting everything was the thickness of the windows.

"They are triple-ply, shatter proof windows," he said.

Rice Village Diamonds believes the robbers got away with about $100,000 worth of diamond jewelry.

There were no customers in the store at the time, but there were three employees inside.

"It happened so fast. The only thing I said to my guys is ‘get out of the way. Let's get ourselves to safety," said Robichau.

A witness snapped a photograph of the suspects and their red SUV, which was parked near the jewelry store. The vehicle was found abandoned

The suspects are described as three black males, dressed in winter jackets with long sleeves and hoods.

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