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Arrests Made in Jewelry Store Smash and Grab

Sunnyvale DPS investigators say they have arrested five people connected to a smash and grab at a Sunnyvale jewelry store.

On June 12, officers received calls that approximately 20 people were using hammers to break the jewelry display cases at PNG Jewelers on E. El Camino Real, north of Wolfe Road. It happened just before 1:30 p.m. All of the suspects had fled in multiple vehicles before the officers arrived.

However, DPS officers were able to capture some of the suspects as they were fleeing. Sunnyvale DPS says officers identified two suspect vehicles in the area and tried to stop them. The drivers did not yield and led police on a chase.


Sunnyvale DPS says the officers pursued the “vehicles from Sunnyvale and ultimately onto Highway 101 towards the peninsula” before eventually calling off the chase because officers lost sight of the vehicles.

Investigators say that during the pursuit, one of the suspects tossed stolen jewelry from the moving vehicle. A different agency located that vehicle a short time later. The five men inside the vehicle abandoned it on Highway 101 near Whipple Avenue and tried to take off on foot. According to the police report, many of them raced across the freeway and into the nearby industrial area.

Four of the men were arrested near Industrial Road and Britan Avenue in San Carlos. The last man was arrested by DPS. A K-9 officer was used to help detain the suspect after he tried to escape.

Investigators say some of the stolen jewelry has been recovered, but the total value of the jewelry stolen is unknown.

No one was injured during the robbery.

Police now have Tonga Latu, Tavake Esafe, Ofa Ahomana, Kilifi Leaaetoa and Afuhia Lavakeiaho in custody. They were booked into Santa Clara County jail for “various offenses, including armed robbery, felony vehicle evasion, resisting arrest, burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, vandalism, possession of burglary tools and outstanding warrants.”

Sunnyvale DPS officers made sure to thank allied departments for their help in the arrests. Those include the California Highway Patrol, Palo Alto Police Department, Belmont Police Department, South San Francisco Police Department and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

DPS says the robbery remains under investigation. Investigators are trying to determine if this incident is related to a robbery that happened at a different jewelry store in Sunnyvale in May. That incident also involved multiple suspects.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Sunnyvale DPS Detective Thomas McKenzie at (408) 730-7110.

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  1. Michael W. 1 month ago

    Good job catching them! They have a lot of vowels in their name. Is this some sort of Hawaiian street gang?

  2. Taf Laupapu 1 week ago

    Not Hawaiians. Shamefully , they are Tongans.

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