CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Investigators with the Charleston Police Department say a $1 million downtown jewelry heist may be related to a similar robbery of a business in Columbia.
Police Chief Greg Mullen gave a press briefing on Wednesday's armed robbery of Demetre Jewelers on King Street where investigators say an estimated $1.05 million in merchandise was stolen by two men.
Mullen said the descriptions of the suspects and the manner of how the armed robbery was executed were very similar to another robbery in Columbia.
"On Feb. 19, a robbery took place at a jewelry store where a number of Rolex watches were stolen," Mullen said."The same operation took place, where two individuals went in, one armed with a gun and one armed with a hammer."
Wednesday's armed robbery in downtown Charleston happened at 11:23 a.m. when two men, one armed with a gun and the other with a hammer robbed the store of merchandise.
According to police, one of the suspects ordered an employee to the ground, while the other broke the case and stole Rolex watches.
"These individuals were precise, they were in this business for less than two minutes," Mullen said."They knew exactly what they were looking for when they went into this business and that's what leads us to believe that this is not just a random act. This is a crew we need to identify. This is a group of individuals that we believe that until they're arrested will continue to commit this type of crime."
Police officials said they were working a number of leads, with Mullen stating that he felt the department was confident an arrest will be made in the case.
Authorities are asking the public for help in the case.
Investigators are asking anyone who saw something suspicious Wednesday morning at the lot to come forward no matter how small it may be.
"We need anybody that was in the area of 30 Coming Street between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to please think back and see if you saw anything that was unusual," Mullen said."What we would be looking for are individuals moving items, moving bags, moving any type of equipment or what appears to be luggage, possibly from the van that was located on 30 Coming Street into any type of vehicle."
Investigators describe both of the suspects as black males in their 20s and wearing black masks. One suspect is described as 6'2" and having a large build, while the other is described as 5'8" with a thin build.
People who work at nearby businesses were shocked to hear what happened.
"It just happened basically right in front of our faces, pretty bold," said Erin Rice who manages Palm Avenue next door to Demetre Jewelers.
"You think you're safe because but down here you have no clue, you have no clue at all, come in with a hammer in the daytime. It's gonna blow your mind," said Justin Hansen who manages Old Town Restaurant.
"This is not acceptable in our community," Mullen said."It's clearly not what we want to happen in our community. When it does happen, we're going to put the effort and the time and resources into it to make sure that we can capture those that are responsible."