Two employees were robbed at gunpoint at the Kay Jewelers store shortly after opening, between 10 and 10:30 a.m., according to Cobb Police.
The suspects include two men who were wearing dark clothes and a woman who was wearing a wig during the robbery, according to Sgt. Dana Pierce of the Cobb Police.
Pierce said the suspects made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, jewelry and personal items.
No injuries were reported.
All three offenders fled on foot from the area in an unknown direction, Pierce said. Police searched around the area of the mall, and employees of the shopping complex said the manhunt involved helicopters.
But, three hours after the robbery Tuesday afternoon, The Avenue parking lot was nearly filled with cars as music piped from speakers hidden in the shrubbery and a fountain spurted water on the sunny day.
The doors to Kay Jewelers were locked, with the lights dimmed inside and a sign outside that said the store would be closed for the rest of the day.
A black Cobb Police sport-utility vehicle, with the words “crime scene” along the side, was parked right outside the store. A security guard stood nearby on the corner next to a golf cart.
The mall property is managed by Lennar Commercial.
Employees of Brighton Collectibles, which carries designer purses and accessories just a few shops down from Kay Jewelers, said since moving in three years ago, this is the first time there has been a robbery.
Shop employees trust the private security
Information about the robbery was not communicated to shop owners by Lennar Commercial’s private security guards, but word spread quickly through the retail community at The Avenue on Tuesday.
Maddy Fong, 24, a manager of fab’rik, said she arrived to work at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning and saw an older “sketchy guy” looking at the store windows. Fong said she quickly went inside and locked the door behind her.
The independently owned franchise boutique opened in November. Fong said there has never been a reason to worry before, nor has she witnessed anything troubling before this week.
“They have amazing security here,” said Fong, who added that she knows each guard by name.
The fab’rik store carries blouses, dresses, and pants in a range of styles from bohemian to urban to edgy.
“Luckily, we don’t have diamond rings in here,” Fong said.
The Kay Jewelers store sits in a prominent position in the center of the complex, near the entrance with signage visible to the highway.
Many shoppers and neighboring employees speculated that Kay Jewelers was targeted like many other fine jewelry stores throughout the metro Atlanta area in the last six months.
In June, Mayors Jewelry Store in Lenox Square, a mall off Peachtree Road, was robbed of $500,000 in merchandise by a group of men police say used smaller hammers to smash the glass cases.
In a nearly identical case from November, thieves allegedly stole $5 million worth of goods from the Elif Fine Jewelry store in Buckhead.
Most of the cases occurred in the early daylight hours and involved two to five robbers who are captured on surveillance videos, according to media reports.
In one case at a Kay Jewelers in Snellville, the suspects are accused of shocking a store clerk with a stun gun. And at least one Villa Rica case resulted in the shooting death of store owner Mitch Mobley.
Shoppers feel safe at The Avenue
More than 50 shops and restaurants, including Chili’s Grill and Bar, Lane Bryant, Famous Footwear and Barnes & Noble, American Eagle Outfitters and Pier 1 Imports line the horse-shoe shape of The Avenue of West Cobb.
On Tuesday afternoon, two ladies in their 60s from Powder Springs, who have lived in Cobb since the late 1960s, said they come to The Avenue at least once a week, but not always together.
Both women said they are not afraid of being in the area alone and they often take advantage of the outdoor retail space as a place to walk around.
“I have always felt perfectly safe here,” said Andrea Brooks, who called the shopping center “middle-class” and “upscale.”
Brooks, with her friend Darlene Pickelsimer, said the space is clean and preferable to a mall that is filled with activity by young teens. The Avenue also has shops that appeal to an older crowd, such as Chico’s, Coldwater Creek and the Yankee Candle store, they said.
“I like the feel of this place,” Pickelsimer said.
Another weekly shopper of The Avenue said she allows her teenaged daughter to walk around the area unsupervised to get her nails painted and grab lunch with friends.
“I have never thought twice about it,” said Mallory Farmer, who now lives in Marietta after moving from west Cobb.