Chatsworth jewelry store owner finds thief tunneling into his business

Police are investigating multiple break-ins at Los Angeles jewelry stores where thieves used sledgehammers to tunnel into the store. The most recent incident happened at a Chatsworth jewelry store, where a worker came face-to-face with one of the burglars.

It happened around 2 a.m. Monday, according to police. Thieves used hammers to bash through six walls across three businesses in the Chatsworth strip mall, in an effort to break into the jewelry store. The only problem was that Denny Lesser, the store's owner, had just walked in to do some late-night repair work. 

"There's somebody about [5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall] about a foot in front of me, and I can't tell you the expletive deleted that I used," Lesser said. "He got frightened. He said something, but not in English, to somebody, that was another person in the wall, and, so I know he was with somebody else for sure."

Lesser said he slammed one of the business' back doors shut, and propped a chair underneath the door knob before calling police.

The thieves were able to get away. 

The LAPD says Monday's break-in in Chatsworth is similar to another break-in at a jewelry store downtown last week. Again, thieves used sledgehammers to plow through the walls of several businesses to get into the jewelry store. In that case though, security cameras captured images of the thieves.

Investigators haven't said if the two cases are related. 

Other Chatsworth businesses, however, say Monday's break-in at the jewelry store isn't the first such case. Aniah Purpose works at Amira's Beauty Supply, and told FOX 11 that thieves tried similar methods to get into their store and a nearby pharmacy.

The damage is backbreaking for businesses like Sarah's Super Salon, which opened less than a year ago, and Cosmetic Creations Salon.

"I feel violated, but I also feel blessed that nobody got hurt. And that's the way I feel," said Rebecca Rotter. "And I'm wishing that some of these people would get prosecuted because the crime is out of control, and I'm not comfortable with that at all."