Update, 5 p.m., Aug. 1:
Several men who orchestrated what appeared to be a well-planned smash-and-grab robbery at the Hamilton Jewelers store in Lawrence Township this afternoon (Wednesday, Aug. 1) are being sought by police in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
After stealing a yet-to-be-known quantity of designer watches from the store in the 2400 block of Brunswick Pike (Business Route 1), the men fled the area in two or more vehicles. One of those vehicles, police said, was involved in a collision along Interstate 95 near Philadelphia, but the occupants of that vehicle jumped into another auto and got away.
It was about 12:20 p.m. when township police received a flood of 911 calls from employees hiding inside the store and from bystanders outside reporting a robbery in progress. Callers initially reported hearing gunshots but police have confirmed that no shots were fired and that the thieves did not display any weapons.
In fact, according to township police spokesman Lt. Mark Ubry, the three men who stormed into the jewelry store never even threatened anyone. They simply smashed several display glass cases, scooped up watches, and fled out the front door.
The sound of the shattering glass was what some 911 callers mistakenly identified as the sound of gunshots, police said.
The thieves were wearing gloves, and masks or bandanas, possibly blue in color, to conceal their faces, police said.
Ubry said store management was in the process of doing an inventory to determine exactly what had been stolen.
Witnesses reported seeing the men run away from the store on foot, followed by two or three vehicles – one reported to be silver or gray – leaving the area at a high rate of speed, police said.
A fourth suspect – older than the three others – may have been driving one of the vehicles, police said.
“We’re investigating if they had their [getaway] vehicles parked on nearby streets,” Ubry said.
As it fled, one of those getaway vehicles struck another vehicle on Brunswick Pike (Route 1) at the intersection with Bakers Basin Road but there were no injuries reported, Ubry said.
Shortly before 1 p.m. Lawrence police were notified by authorities in Bucks County, Pa., that a car believed to have been involved in the Hamilton Jewelers crime had struck a disabled vehicle.
The crash happened on Interstate 95 near Woodhaven Road in Bensalem Township, near the border with Philadelphia. At least one person from the disabled vehicle was injured.
Witnesses told Pennsylvania state police that three men got out of the crashed getaway car and jumped into another vehicle that stopped to pick them up, according to Ubry.
He said he did not know the severity of the injuries in the I-95 crash, which he said is under investigation by Pennsylvania state troopers.
The crashed getaway car was being towed back to New Jersey to be processed for evidence by Lawrence Township police, he said.
Ubry also confirmed that township police are investigating if the thieves used a stolen license plate on one of their getaway vehicles. He said the license plate was reported stolen from an auto that had been parked outside Pet’s Plus in the 100 block of Lawrence Road (Route 206).
Detectives are reviewing video footage from Hamilton Jewelers' store security system and the red light camera system at the intersection of Brunswick Pike and Bakers Basin Road in the hope of identifying the thieves, police said.
Several patrons who exited the nearby Subway restaurant and Dollar Tree store said they did not witness the crime but saw the aftermath with police vehicles racing into the parking lot of Hamilton Jewelers and officers exiting with their guns drawn.
The Hamilton Jewelers store was .
In that crime, which also took place about the same time of day, three men – at least one of whom was armed with a handgun – smashed a display case and stole 12 Rolex watches worth $121,000 before they fled in a vehicle that was possibly driven by a fourth person.
Police later arrested and charged a suspect, Nicholas G. Horace, then 19, of Spring Street in Trenton.
A postal service worker who witnessed the crime and provided police with valuable information that aided investigators was .
Police ask anyone with information about today's crime to call detectives at (609) 896-1111.
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Original story, posted 1:39 p.m. Aug. 1:
Several masked men who committed a smash-and-grab robbery at the Hamilton Jewelers store this afternoon are being sought by Lawrence Township police.
The men broke open three glass display cases and stole watches from the store at 2542 Brunswick Pike (Business Route 1), township Police Chief Daniel Posluszny said at the scene shortly after the 12:20 p.m. crime.
While there were initial reports that shots were fired during the crime, that does not appear to be the case, police said, adding that the sound of the glass shattering could have been mistaken for gunshots.
Several possible getaway vehicles were being sought and police are investigating a report that one of those vehicles was involved in a traffic collision on Interstate 95 near Philadelphia.
The Hamilton Jewelers store was .
This story will be updated throughout the day as additional details become available.