Police search for suspects, possible links between jewelry heists in Modesto, Bay Area

MILPITAS, Calif. -- Two robberies, similar in nature, are now being compared by police in Milpitas and Modesto. The one in the Bay Area, at the Great Mall, occurred just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday and confused people who believed there was an active shooter. That turned out to not be true.

Milpitas police released photos Monday of the three suspects wanted in connection to the heist at the Great Mall.

There were no signs of broken glass Monday at Valliani Jewelers inside the Great Mall in Milpitas -- we only saw a covered display case.

But Sunday night, police say, as three men in black hoodies smashed the cases, the sound of shattering glass confused many customers, some falsely believing there was an active shooter. People quickly ran out, then posted on social media.

"What happened recently in Gilroy and El Paso and what's happened worldwide, people are hypersensitive. I get that," said Captain Raj Maharaj of the Milpitas Police Department.

Surveillance footage shows three suspects smashing cases during a jewelry store robbery at the Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif. on Aug. 25, 2019.

Surveillance footage shows three suspects smashing cases during a jewelry store robbery at the Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif. on Aug. 25, 2019.


A nearly identical heist occurred just a few hours before at the same jewelry store, Valliani -- this time in Modesto. Four men were caught on surveillance camera using what appears to be sledgehammers, police say, possibly also used in the Milpitas burglary.

"In our investigation, there are three suspects. They are described as black men wearing dark clothing," added Majaraj.

In the Modesto incident, they are wearing different hoodies.

"We have to make sure our detectives talk to their detectives, look at photos, find any additional photos that we may have that aren't from the store," said Majaraj.

Milpitas police told us there are always four permanent officers on the premises. That's how police say, they were able to respond so quickly.
Surveillance footage shows a car belonging to three suspects in a jewelry store robbery at the Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif. on Aug. 25, 2019.

Surveillance footage shows a car belonging to three suspects in a jewelry store robbery at the Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif. on Aug. 25, 2019.



On Monday, people visiting the mall understood why people panicked.

"Things keep happening all around and as soon as you hear something happening, people get scared, they don't have the full information, they start moving around. They assume the worse," said one man, who did not want to be identified.

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