Toronto police are asking for the public’s assistance identifying two men who robbed a jewellery store last month while wearing burkas.
Edmond Bakos, the owner of the York Mills-Leslie Street-area Mona-Clara Jewellers, said he didn’t think twice about the people who walked into his store on OCt. 14 until one them produced a handgun and demanded jewellery in a distinctly masculine voice.
“Three seconds after they walked in, they pulled out a gun and said, ‘It’s a holdup,’” Bakos said.
While one suspect emptied a display of jewellery into his handbag, the second went with a female staff member to lock the entrance.
The pair got away with about $500,000 in jewellery during the five-minute holdup, Holdup squad Staff-Insp. Mike Earl told reporters Wednesday. The robbery took place at about 11 a.m., at a “busy” mall plaza, he said.
Bakos described the incident as traumatic.
Police are asking for the public’s assistance in finding the robbers. The first suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5”11 wearing black clothes. The second suspect was also male, approximately 6”3 with no description of ethnicity.
“There’s not much to go with here,” Staff-Insp. Earl admitted.
Police have video of the pair walking to the store and believe there was a getaway vehicle at the back of the plaza.
“It’s the first jewellery store robbery I’ve seen where the individuals were wearing burkas,” Staff-Insp. Earl said.
He said a burka would not stand out in October, while a ski mask would likely draw attention.
There are other unsolved jewellery store heists this year and the robbery may be related, he added.
“It’s another way of disguising yourself,” he said.
Police are asking anyone who purchased a large quantity of jewels in the last month to contact them.
“It is our belief that with this amount of jewelry that somebody may have purchased a large quantity of jewelry shortly after the robbery that may point us to the right direction,” Insp. Earl said.
“Hopefully an honest retailer will come forward.”