Community rallies around Peterborough jewelry store

  • hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs
    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs
    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs
    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

  • hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • hobbs jewelers, Jacquie Hobbs, Curtis Hobbs<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

PETERBOROUGH — Jacquie Hobbs says everyone at Hobbs Jewelers has been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received after an armed robbery at the Deport Square store on Jan. 15.

“The warmth has been amazing,” Hobbs said on Friday afternoon, as well-wishers stopped by the store to express their concern. “Everyone has come to help. We’ve had flowers and food and lots and lots of hugs.”

“We really can’t say enough about all the kindness we’ve received,” added clerk Jessica Harms. “It’s been wonderful.”

The store reopened on Thursday, having closed for just one day after four people made off with what Hobbs estimated was between $125,000 and $150,000 in merchandise.

“We’re still doing inventory,” Hobbs said. “Everything in the diamond case was taken, about half of our gemstones, about half of the gentlemen’s case. They took a line of brand-new watches.”

Hobbs said suppliers and other jewelers have offered inventory so the store can be ready for Valentine’s Day.

Hobbs and her 17-year-old son, Curtis, were alone in the store when the four people — two men and two women with their faces covered — walked in at about 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 15. One of the men showed Hobbs a gun and told her no one would be hurt if she cooperated.

“I wasn’t near a panic button,” Hobbs said. “I was stuck in one spot and they were telling me what to do. I said “I’ll do whatever you want.’”

Hobbs told the robbers that her son was working in the back and one of the men went into the back of store and took Curtis’s cell phone. They then filled white bags with the merchandise, told Hobbs and Curtis to lie on the floor and count to 100, and left through the front door.

The four robbers were only in the store for a few minutes, according to Hobbs.

“I’m so thankful no one walked in,” she said. She said her other son was expected to come in that afternoon and her father, Paul Hobbs, who is a co-owner of the family-run store, was out on an errand.

Curtis Hobbs said on Friday that he was taken by surprise when a man walked into the back room and asked for his phone.

“I gave it to him automatically,” Curtis said. “I didn’t really realize what was going on. Then I heard the noise out front.”

Curtis said he wasn’t especially scared.

“It didn’t rile me too much,” he said. “The guy was calm. He was real tall and real calm... I was really just thinking about what I should do in order for them to leave. It was obvious he wasn’t going to hurt me.”

Curtis said he got up after hearing the front door close before his mother did. He looked over the counter to the outside, didn’t see anything and started urging his mother to call the police. Jacquie Hobbs said she pulled the phone down from the front counter, staying down out of sight, and made the call.

“The police were here in about 60 seconds,” she said. “They have been wonderful.”

Hobbs didn’t recognize the four people. Based on her report, police described the robbers as a black male, 25 to 35 years old, 6 foot, 4 inches to 6 foot, 5 inches tall with a very thin build, wearing a dark coat and dark jeans; a black male, 44 to 55 years old, 5 foot, 5 inches to 5 foot, 7 inches, medium build, wearing a gray sweatshirt and a knit hat; a black female, age 20 to 25, 5 foot, 5 inches to 5 foot, 7 inches, with her face covered and wearing a long black coat; and a black female, age 18 to 25, 5 foot, 3 inches to 5 foot, 7 inches, with her face covered, wearing a long black coat.

Hobbs said police are reviewing video from the store’s surveillance cameras. Police also took lots of fingerprints. “We don’t think any of them were wearing gloves,” Hobbs said.

As of Monday, Peterborough police had released no additional information about the investigation.

Hobbs said she grew up in the jewelry business and has always been aware of the potential for a robbery.

“You get a nervous feeling about people once in a while,” she said, “We’ve always talked about what could happen.”

The business’s back office is still a mess, Hobbs said, as she completes inventory work and deals with insurance forms. But out front, the store looks like nothing had happened.

“We’re moving along. This is what we love doing,” said Hobbs.

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