Peterborough jewelry store robbed
PETERBOROUGH - About $150,000 worth of jewelry was stolen in an armed robbery of Hobbs Jewelers Tuesday.
Jacquie Hobbs, daughter of owner Paul Hobbs, was working in the store when the robbers came in. Her 17-year-old son was working in the back room. No one was hurt, but nonetheless the ordeal is stressful, she said.
"They did keep yelling at me, 'Just hurry, hurry, hurry. You need to go faster. You're taking too long. You don't want anybody to get hurt do you?' And so then they told me to go in the back and lay down on the floor, count to 100. Not to get up until, 'You count to 100.' My son was back there and he asked me if everything was OK. I waited a moment and that's when it hit me. That's when I started crying and I felt scared and was afraid to get off the floor," she Wednesday afternoon.
Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard said police are searching for four people: a black man described as about 6 feet, 4 inches tall, thin and about 25 to 35 years old, a black man about 5 feet, 5 inches to 5 feet, 7 inches tall with a medium build who is 45 to 55 years old, a black woman described as 5 feet, 5 inches to 5 feet, 7 inches tall who is 20 to 25 years old, and a black woman described as 5 feet, 3 inches to 5 feet, 7 inches tall who is 18 to 25 years old. The taller man was wearing a dark coat and jeans, while the shorter man was wearing a gray sweatshirt and a knit hat, police said. The women each covered their faces and were wearing long, black coats.
Police said the robbery happened around 5:15 p.m. The store normally closes at 5 p.m. Jacquie said she was working Tuesday night and was 10 minutes away from closing.
"I had a late customer and then four individuals came in."
"I commented to them cause they had ski parkas on that only showed their eyes and I said, 'It's not that cold yet is it' and they said, 'yes it is.' Then one of the men showed me his gun and said 'You know what this is" and I said, 'yes.'"
Jacquie said she told the robbers her son was in the back room and said, "Just don't hurt my son."
"They took white trash bags out. They put one on the diamond counter and they stood there telling me to put everything in it."
While one robber stood in front of Jacquie while she stuffed the bag, two others went to the side counters and started bagging items behind the side counters. The fourth robber went into the back room, took her son's cell phone, and moved his computer away from him. He was told to get down on the floor in a corner. Then they took Jacquie into the back and told her to get down on the floor and count to 100, and left, she said.
No customers were in the store at the time. No cash was taken and no one was physically hurt, she said.
"If you look at the grand scheme of things it could have been really bad, but nobody was hurt," she said.
Police took fingerprints from the store and video footage from the store's surveillance camera, Jacquie said.
"The Peterborough Police Department has been fantastic," she said. "We've got some good leads so we'll see."
Some other businesses in the Depot Square shopping area saw a black Mercedes just outside of Hobbs during the robbery without out-of-state plates, Paul Hobbs said. Jacquie Hobbs said police are still trying to confirm if that was the vehicle use in the robbery.
The jewelry store takes in watches and jewelry for repair, refittings and appraisal, but no customer items were stolen.
"We become very close with our families, the people we work with, and it would break our hearts, it would kill us, if any merchandise of the different families were taken, but it wasn't and that is a huge blessing," she said.
Those items as well as the times stolen are covered by insurance, she said.
The store was closed Wednesday so father and daughter and 32-year employee Peggy Langevin could take inventory.
"We don't have a price on it just yet, but if I had to guess I would say about $150,000," Jacquie Hobbs said.
While they were in the store, David Blair, the former director of the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough, came to the door of the jewelry store to check the family and hugged Paul, Jacquie and Langevin.
"The warmth has been unbelievable, families, business, and acquaintances from all over," Jacquie Hobbs said.
"Even different countries," said 32-year employee Peggy Langevin. "It's been surprising, overwhelming how much people will reach out to you, Jacquie Hobbs said.
Paul Hobbs was working as watchmaker for Simon's Jewelers of Keene at their Brattleboro, Vt., location in the 1960s when Simon's opened up a location in Peterborough in 1964.
He came to work at the store in Peterborough and then bought it, renaming it Hobbs, in 1965.
"All these years," the store has never been robbed," Paul Hobbs said. "We had an incident back when it was Simon's but that was negligible compared to this."
Depot Square shop owner Tammy Woodard said she reached out to Jacquie with an email Wednesday morning.
"I'm just shocked. I'm just in total shock, but I'm just glad nobody got hurt," Woodard said.
Peterborough is a small town in which you don't expect this type of crime, she said. The robbers probably scoped out the jewelry store ahead of time, she said.
Woodard said shop owners should work together to be more aware of any suspicious activity in Depot Square.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 924-8050.