Cartier Thieves, A smash-and-grab crew hit Cartier’s flagship store, scooping up pricey timepieces and leaving just one (left) behind. Photo: Brigitte Stelzer
A crew of smash-and-grab robbers struck Cartiers flagship Fifth Avenue store in broad daylight Thursday ” and made off with 16 watches worth about $700,000.
Five crooks entered the luxury jewelry shop through a side door at around 12:30 p.m., shoved past an unarmed guard and smashed open the nearest display case using two hammers, police sources said.
The gloved bandits scooped up as many timepieces as they could ” leaving just one, a source said.
By the time the other guards could react, the crew was gone.
About a dozen workers and a half-dozen customers were inside the store during the heist.
It happened so fast that people really didnt know what was going on, a police source said. They heard the smashing of the display case, but they thought it was an accident outside. And the perps ran out before the customers realized anything.
Sources said the robbers first tried to hit the nearby Wempe watch and jewelry store, but were thrown out by a guard. They went to Cartier a few minutes later.
A construction worker said he saw them casing the store.
They were small, didnt look like big guys or anything, he said. They were just looking through the window. It didnt look like they could afford anything in there.
Nicholas Basoukos, manager of Hellenis Jewelry across Fifth Avenue, said cops showed him pictures of the smashed case.
Completely broken on the top. Everything was missing from what I saw, Basoukos recalled.
Kedar Nesby, a security worker at a nearby store, said that while the block is among the most heavily guarded in the city, the thieves were likely emboldened because theyve got all the cops down in Times Square overseeing pre-Super Bowl festivities.
Cartier said in a statement that no one was hurt.
A Post reporter later observed about 15 employees in the shop drinking champagne and wine. One worker said it was a prescheduled meeting.
Police sources said they believe the theft is linked to at least six other smash-and-grabs.