PARAMUS - Police are still looking for brazen thieves that took advantage of the snowy weather to pull off a jewelry heist that cost the store owner $250,000.
Surveillance video caught the break-in at the Jewelry Center on Route 4 early Thursday morning.
Investigators say the thieves crashed through a wall with a pickup truck and then ripped out a safe and emptied showcases filled with jewelry and watches.
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"They knew what they were doing," says Joseph Ayaz, manager of Eternal Touch Jewelry. "They are professionals. They were fast enough and I guess practiced."
Ayaz says the thieves pulled out the safe with a chain and then lifted it up onto a getaway vehicle with a backhoe. He says a backhoe and three other vehicles were left behind in the lot. Paramus police say all the vehicles were stolen.
Recent snowstorms may have helped the thieves pull off this heist, police say. Giant snowbanks in front of the store made it hard to see from nearby Route 4. Owners believe if anyone did see a backhoe or trucks in front of the store while driving by, they would've thought workers were just clearing the lot.
The robbery is nearly identical to a New Year's Day heist at Union Jewelers Exchange on Route 22. Thieves used a similar tactic in that crime, using a truck to crash through the door and a stolen forklift to grab a safe. Those thieves failed to reach the safe.
Police may catch a break in identifying a suspect in the Paramus case. The backhoe was stolen from Route 17, and police say they have video of the vehicle.
Authorities have not yet released the surveillance video in the Jewelry Center robbery, but say the suspects were wearing masks.
For extended interview on the jewelry heist, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.