Gunman gets away with $27K in jewelry

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EL CAJON, Calif. -- El Cajon police Thursday were on the lookout for a gunman who robbed a jewelry store inside Parkway Plaza shopping mall.

The robbery at Weisfield Jewelers at 371 Parkway Plaza was reported at 7:50 p.m. Wednesday, according to the El Cajon Police Department.

The robber entered the store and expressed interest in buying rings, ECPD Lt. Rob Ransweiler said, adding that as an employee began to help the man, he brandished a firearm and grabbed jewelry from a display case. With merchandise in hand, the robber ran away, according to Ransweiler.

No one was hurt, but the Weisfield Jewelers employee who fell victim to this crime said the robber got away with roughly $27,000 worth of engagement rings.

The employee, who did not want to be identified, said the robber grabbed the entire case of engagement rings she had pulled out to show him.

Police described the robber as a thin black man around 5-feet, 1-inch tall, last seen wearing a black hat, black jacket and dark pants. He exited the mall through the north doors toward Fletcher Parkway, police said.

Anyone with information about the robbery was asked to call police at 619-579-3311.

Meanwhile, mall employees said they were shocked to learn about the crime because they consider Westfield Parkway Plaza a safe place to work.

“I think our security here is pretty good. I’m friends with several of the security guards and we try to keep things pretty friendly. I’m surprised that happened," Brighton employee Amanda Burkhart said.

According to this interactive crime map, about 50 crimes have happened near the mall since January 1. But a former police officer said the high number concentrated near the mall shouldn't be cause for concern.

"That's pretty typical for a mall. It’s a high activity area so that's where criminals are going to target," former officer Eric Fulton said. Instead of getting caught up in crime statistics, he suggested focusing on safety tips.

“Keep your head on a swivel and keep your phone in your pocket; don’t be talking on your phone and keep your keys and your wallets away," Fulton said.

Burkhart said she and fellow employees are always cautions when leaving work.

"When we leave, like late at night, me and my girls always make sure to walk to our cars together and if one's parked further away we make sure to drive to the other person's car and make sure they’re safe," she said.

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