Bay Area/ San Jose/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on June 13, 2024
Five Suspects Charged Following Daring Daylight Robbery at Sunnyvale Jewelry StoreSource: Google Street View

Chaos erupted at PNG Jewelers in Sunnyvale when a band of nearly 20 suspects, armed with hammers, carried out a brazen daylight robbery. This heist, unfolding on Wednesday at 1:27 p.m., saw the bandits smashing display cases and stuffing their pockets with jewels before scrambling into getaway cars. Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety reported that despite a dramatic pursuit, with robbers tossing jewelry from speeding vehicles, the suspects initially eluded capture.

Responding officers managed to track down two of the suspect vehicles fleeing the scene. However, fleeting as shadows, both slipped the grip of law enforcement, leading to high-speed chases onto Highway 101. With suspects shedding their ill-gotten gains along the highway, authorities eventually ceased their pursuit, later finding one abandoned vehicle near Whipple Ave. The suspects, jumping out of the car, tried to escape on foot across the freeway but were soon apprehended with the aid of a Police Service Dog and officers near Industrial Rd. and Britan Ave. in San Carlos.

In a rapidly evolving situation, a total of five suspects were detained. Identified as Tonga Latu, Tavake Esafe, Ofa Ahomana, Kilifi Leaaetoa, and Afuhia Lavakeiaho, these individuals now face a slew of charges. Among them are armed robbery, felony vehicle evasion, and resisting arrest—a clear testament to their alleged brazen criminal actions. They were booked into the Santa Clara County jail, facing the consequences of their choices.

While no one was reported harmed, the exact value of the stolen and discarded jewelry remains unclear as the investigation continues. Detectives are probing potential connections between this robbery and another similar incident that hit a Sunnyvale jewelry store last month. The community remains on edge as they grapple with the troubling surge of coordinated thefts.

An appeal for witnesses or anyone with information relevant to the case is ongoing. Detective Thomas McKenzie is the point of contact for any tips, possibly shedding light on these audacious crimes. As the local and neighboring police departments pool their resources, the promise of justice hangs in the balance—a reminder of the relentless pursuit law enforcement is committed to, ensuring the many facets of public safety.