Robbers hit jewelry store at Conestoga Mall
Raffi Jewellers was the target of thieves Wednesday morning around 10:00 a.m. when four suspects smashed display cases and fled with an unknown amount of jewelry.
Mary Wybrow was in the mall at the time and describes what she saw, "I saw these guys all dressed in black with white over their faces come running in and I thought they were playing a game…and they started smashing all the glass."
She says that she then started telling stores to close their doors because she didn't know if there were guns involved.
Pragna Gohil works in the mall, she says she heard the glass being smashed and saw the suspects running, "They were all covered up, completely black-covered, you can hardly see anything from head to toe. Only thing you can see, one guy was wearing white shoes. That's all I saw. They were separating because there's two exits near the Zeller's side."
A substance believed to be pepper spray was reportedly dispersed by the suspects during the robbery, and several people in the mall at the time had to be treated for burning, irritated eyes.
The mall was evacuated and air quality tests were conducted. Fans were also brought in to help clear the air.
Waterloo Regional Police spokesperson Olaf Heinzel says "We understand a noxious spray was deployed during the course of the robbery. We still have to confirm what exactly it was but it appears to be an irritant."
Police say they aren't away of any reports of other weapons being involved, and sounds some may have thought were gunshots are believed to have been the sound of the glass cases being smashed.
The clerk in the jewelry store reportedly suffered only minor injuries, and one other person suffered head injuries in the incident.
According to Heinzel, "As the suspects either entered or left the mall they bumped into a sign and that sign in turn hurt one of the other tenants and he was struck in the head with the sign."
The suspects were last seen running out of the shopping centre on foot and then getting into a light-coloured van.
The heist appears to resemble robberies at two jewelry stores at Kitchener's Fairview Park Mall in December, when Peoples Jewellers and Ben Moss Jewellers were robbed two weeks apart.
The circumstances are also similar to a robbery at a CashMax Payday Loans location on Weber Street.
A light-coloured van was reportedly seen following both the CashMax and Ben Moss robberies.
However it is still too early to be certain if the incidents are connected.
Heinzel says "Certainly we're going to be looking at all the other robberies that have occurred that have some similarities, we're going to look at those similarities, look at the differences and make a decision as we go forward."
Police say they are hoping to be able to identify the suspects as soon as possible.