[Whatyouneedtoknowtogetstarted: Get New York today in your inbox . , apparently wearing disguises, entered a jewelry store, dug in employees and hid high-end valuables in a dramatic scene that was filmed
On Monday, police are still searching for the robbers responsible for detaining the store, Avianne & Co ., a high-profile jewelry post known for prod the glamor of celebrity client shiny, diamond heavy pieces including musicians Niki Minaj and Justin Bieber.
Officials do not specify the value of the stolen items, nor say how many items are missing. Avianne's owners and managers did not respond to requests for comment.
However, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said the men had stolen numerous high-end watches and other jewelry.
The three robbers – one wearing a suit and a Fedor, another wearing a black bucket hat and a third wearing a red and black cloth on his head – posed as customers when they entered the store on Sunday, reported by the police.
A man in Fedora told store employees he was looking to buy a ring, the employee said. He and two workers went to the back of the store to complete the purchase. Shortly afterwards, at least one man in the showroom pulled out a gun.
At about the same time in the back room, the man in the Fedor drew a silver pistol, according to surveillance footage.
Then the other two robbers stormed in the back, forced the workers on the floor and tied their limbs with a patch and zipper, police said.
Surveillance footage shows two of the men pushing objects into a bag while store employees are on the ground. An outdoor briefcase with luxury watches is shown on a desk in the room.
In the background are security cameras that record footage that will later be released by police.
The robbers fled and police surveillance cameras on the street filmed them, trying to call a yellow cab. None of the employees were seriously injured, police said.
Thefts of jewelry stores continue to be widespread in the United States, although the number of thefts appears to have declined in recent years, according to John J. Kennedy president of the Jewelry Security Alliance, a trade association that traces jewelry crimes to retailers and police.
During the first six months of 2019, the Alliance monitors 59 robberies of jewelry dealers across the country, down from 105 over the same period last year, although Mr Kennedy notes that statistics were preliminary .
Thefts of a cannon, like the one in Avian, tend to be less common than so-called burglaries, in which thieves break shop windows and take whatever they can before fleeing, Mr. Kennedy said.
"The laws, if caught and convicted, are much tougher if you have a firearm," explained Mr. Kennedy.
He also said robberies were "relatively rare" on West 47th Street, despite the high concentration.
"There are very good police patrols," Mr Kennedy said. "It also has an element of private security, and you have many jewelers who are very sophisticated about the security issue."
Employees at Jewelry Display of New York Inc., second floor across the street from Avian, said they noticed three men on Thursday and Friday afternoon staying near the store. One of the men, officials said, appears to be the man in the bucket hat.
"It felt like they were inspecting the place," says 23-year-old Jester Sanchez.
Vianna takes care of to celebrity clients. He sold pieces to rappers like 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne and Ms. Minaj. He once cleaned Mr. Bieber's gold chain and designed a personalized 15-carat engagement ring for singer Kiara.
However, even with its famous customers and big Instagram afterwards, Avianne is a consumer showroom that attracts buyers from all walks of life.
For Avianne and other jewelry stores, the risk of a potential customer may prove to be a thief is part of the cost of doing business, Mr. Kennedy said.
"You are a retailer," he said. "So you're going to let these people in your store."
Ali Watkins and Aaron Randall gave reports.