In Broad Daylight, Robbers Empty Jewelry Store in Minutes

Oakland's Phuong Jewelry loses up to 90% of its inventory
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2024 8:19 AM CDT

Six people dressed all in black carrying hammers and a gun robbed a jewelry store in Oakland, California, on Wednesday, making off with "nearly all the owner's life savings in a matter of minutes," NBC News reports. Diane Trinh, the 69-year old owner of Phuong Jewelry, one of the oldest jewelry stores in Oakland's Chinatown, and one not covered by insurance, said the crime was especially traumatizing as her father was shot and killed in a robbery at the same store in the 1990s. Trinh had thought she was helping a customer around 12:30pm Wednesday but the man was not what he seemed, she tells NBC.

He apparently granted entry to robbers who smashed display cases, grabbing what they could, until Trinh's 76-year-old husband came out of a backroom with a shotgun and the robbers ran out the door. The family estimates 85% to 90% of the store inventory vanished in minutes. "We've been robbed a few times before but not at this level of brazen magnitude," Trinh's son, Tony Trinh, executive director of the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council, tells KGO. He notes the family let their business insurance lapse because of rising premiums. "Insurance costs so much with jewelry, especially in Oakland Chinatown," he tells NBC. "A lot of businesses here don't even qualify."

A GoFundMe campaign launched by the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council has raised nearly $40,000 for the store, which has been open for four decades. One customer said it would be "a big loss for the city" if the store was forced to close, per NBC. For now, the family is vowing to stay open. But "I feel scared," Diane Trinh tells NBC. "Even right now, my heart is still hurt." Hundreds of Oakland businesses recently went on strike to protest what they said was rampant violent crime, per Fox Business. (More Oakland stories.)

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