Carter’s Jewelry of Petal robbed Monday morning

By HASKEL BURNS,

The staff of Carter’s Jewelry of Petal walked into what owner Chae Carter described as a “crime scene” early Monday morning after discovering thieves had robbed the store of much of its jewelry only minutes before.

Carter said she received a call about 2 a.m. Monday from Petal Police Department informing her that the store had been broken into. The robbers apparently gained entry by prying open the front door of the shop.

“There was yellow tape everywhere, Petal Police Department, Forrest County detectives, CSI SUVs,” Carter said. “They told us they had responded in four minutes, and (the robbers) were already gone.

“It was so foggy that you couldn’t see from the store door to Evelyn Gandy, so it was just bad timing, really, how they got away with it. It was so foggy you couldn’t see anything – (the police) were driving down Evelyn Gandy and couldn’t even see the car there.”

Police are searching for three male suspects who were driving a bluish-gray, newer-model Ford Explorer.

“They were in and out in two and a half minutes, and they smashed eight of our cases and took a whole bunch of jewelry,” Carter said. “But luckily they didn’t touch our safe, and that’s where we keep our higher-end items and our customers’ jewelry and repairs.

“So we were really fortunate, because that’s what we were most concerned about – our employee safety and our clients and their jewelry. It happened when no one was here, and their stuff was not touched.”

Carter said it seemed like the robbers had prepared the crime well in advance and staked out the store before breaking in, and had removed the license plate from the Explorer.

“They came in with full black masks, black gloves, hoodies, and boots – you couldn’t see anything,” she said. “They went straight to where they were going, smashed out the bottoms of the cases, and got it all that quick.”

After arriving at the scene, Carter called the insurance company, and the staff did a mandatory physical inventory of the store. Fortunately for the Carter’s team, several local companies immediately stepped in to lend a hand – the glass company installed temporary glass before 11 a.m. Monday, and the store’s landlord had the doors replaced by about 10:30 a.m.

“And some of our really great customers had coffee and food delivered, and a lot of our vendors are personally delivering jewelry to us tonight and in the morning,” Carter said. “We’re going to open (Tuesday) at 10 a.m.”

Carter said in the 32 years the store has been in business – including the two years at its current location on Evelyn Gandy Parkway – an incident like this has never happened.

“If it weren’t for the fog, there’s no way that it would’ve happened,” she said. “So we’re really thanking God and our lucky stars that none of us were here. It’s just scary to think if they had done that while we were here.

“It’s so close to Christmas, so at first we kind of wanted to be sad, because it feels like they stole our Christmas spirit. But we’re not going to let it get us down.”

To that end, the Carter’s staff will hold a Christmas Carter’s Jubilee event from 10 a.m.-8:30 Thursday at the store.

“We’re not going to let the Grinch steal our Christmas, so come celebrate,” Carter said.