EXCLUSIVE: Inside the $1 million diamond heist of an Asheville jewelry store

Surveillance footage shows how three thieves robbed an Asheville jewelry store of more than $1 million in diamonds in less than a minute. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Surveillance footage shows how three thieves robbed an Asheville jewelry store of more than $1 million in diamonds in less than a minute.

"It was the longest 60 seconds of my life," said Elliott Spicer, co-owner of Spicer Greene Jewelers with his wife, Eva-Michelle, who had left the store a few hours before the robbery.

RELATED | Asheville's Spicer Greene Jewelers robbed

No customers were in the store. No personal customer jewelry was taken, which is often dropped off by customers to be cleaned, repaired or appraised.

Spicer said the three robbers took "more than $1 million" worth of loose diamonds out of one case, a collection he dubbed "the largest collection of loose diamonds in the Carolinas."

Surveillance footage shows two motorbikes ride up to the front of the store about 4:15 Wednesday afternoon.

Three people get off the bikes and walk inside with their helmets on or faces covered. At least two of them pulled out handguns, forcing seven employees into one side of the store. Two of the robbers then smashed the front glass of the case containing the loose diamonds and pulled out everything inside.

All three walked out of the store exactly 52 seconds after the first one walked in.

"They had a countdown. They were counting down from 60 seconds every 15 seconds, so when they walked in they yelled 60, then they yelled 45, 30, 15. When it got down, they yelled 'get out,' got on their motorbikes and left," Spicer said.

"This was definitely, in my opinion, and I've been in this industry my whole life, very professional, and not their first rodeo," said Spicer, whose parents are jewelers in Canada. "The way they orchestrated the whole thing, they must have been in the store and cased us before. It was definitely a professional operation."

Spicer said all the diamonds are kept in one case because it's part of the way they sell them.

"Our philosophy as a business is that every diamond is a unique piece of art," said Spicer. "To get a sense of how to pick a diamond, you have to see lots of them, see many different choices at different price points. That's one of our main competitive advantages of shopping with us -- you get true education looking at diamonds.

"Picking that diamond is like picking the right person: you have to find that one you fall in love with, that's beautiful to you."

The couple took over the store from Eva-Michelle's parents last year, and Spicer said he didn't think the Greenes had ever been robbed at gunpoint in their 40 years at the store.

"We're so blessed," Spicer said thankfully. "Jewelry is one thing, but no one was hurt. Nobody was trying to be a hero. You can replace diamonds but not lives."

The Spicers have had an interesting few months to start the year.

In late March, a News 13 story about the store's billboard advertising "Sometimes it's okay to throw rocks at girls" went viral, offending some people who said it sanctioned domestic violence.

A few dozen people protested outside the store the weekend after the billboard went up, demanding it be taken down.

The Spicers responded by saying they had donated to domestic violence survivors' groups in the past and would again donate 10 percent of the store's sales the weekend after the billboard went up.

They replaced the billboard in early April with a new one that reads "Asheville Rocks."

Asheville Police have released very few details, saying Thursday only that the investigation is ongoing.

They are asking anyone with information to call Crimestoppers at 828-255-5050.

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