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Armed shop owner stops smash-and-grab at south Charlotte jewelry store

CHARLOTTE — A business owner armed with a handgun stopped a smash-and-grab robbery at a local jewelry store.

It happened during store hours Friday at Ballantyne Jewelers off Johnston Road in south Charlotte.

The crime appeared to be well planned, as the suspects knew exactly which cases to hit. The owner told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon he is certain they had cased the place before.

The owner, who didn’t want to be identified, said the thieves backed their car up near the front door. When they got inside, they went straight for the most expensive watches. He thinks they may have kept going if he didn’t grab his gun.

The sound of glass shattering is what moved the owner to get his gun.

“Without a second thought,” he said. “I needed to protect my business, my family.”

Surveillance video captured him holding the loaded pistol as the thieves jumped into their getaway car.

“They are lucky they ran out. I was ready to shoot,” he said.

He told Lemon that Ballantyne Jewelers is a family shop. They spend more time there than at home. Working family members were the only people inside when three men pulled up Friday evening.

“Three guys came in wrapped from head to toe,” he said. “Their faces covered, their hands covered.”

One started slinging the sledge hammer. The other two went straight to the Rolex case first and filled their bags.

“Hard work for us, easy money for them,” the store owner said.

He said he wasn’t going to let them keep going.

“Put the clip in, cocked it, and charged the three guys,” he said.

He said he didn’t know if they had guns, but he had to put a stop to everything.

“Intruding on our family, intruding on our customers and our personal business,” he said.

He said they smashed 13 jewelry cases and got well over $100,000 worth of jewelry. It’s all insured, but he said what was taken in just 30 seconds will take a long time to replace.

(WATCH BELOW: Gastonia Police investigating local jewelry store robbery)