SANTA CRUZ -- Three men with sledgehammers and pepper spray tried to rob Dell Williams Jewelers but left empty-handed on Friday.

About 12:55 p.m., three men wearing black ski masks entered the store at 1320 Pacific Ave., said Santa Cruz police Lt. Dan Flippo. Two men used sledgehammers to try to smash a glass cases that contained watches.

The other man shot pepper spray at a female employee in her 50s.

After they failed to break the glass, the trio fled to an Audi A7 with a driver on Pacific Avenue.

The employee was treated by paramedics and was not transported to a hospital.

After the men fled, several people downtown called 911 to report an Audi with a reckless driver, said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.

Police found the car abandoned on the 100 block of Fern Street by 2:25 p.m., Flippo said.

The car had dealer plates from Audi of Oakland. Authorities contacted the dealer and found that the car had been taken from the lot, although it had not been reported stolen, Clark said.

Police processed the Audi for evidence and plan to return it to Oakland.

Authorities had not arrested any suspects by Friday night.

The three men wore baggy blue jeans and appeared black or Latino with dark complexions, Clark said.

Two of them wore black hooded sweatshirts and the other wore a gray sweatshirt. They appeared 20- to 25-years-old, and one of the men was taller than the others.

Police did not release a description of the getaway driver.


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Clark said the "smash-and-grab" method was similar to several recent robberies in Campbell, San Carlos, Corte Madera and Danville.

Santa Cruz police ask anyone with information to call investigations at 420-5820, the anonymous tipline at 420-5995 or leave a tip at www.santacruzpolice.com or by the mobile application at http://m.santacruzpolice.com.

Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter on Twitter at Twitter.com/sbaxter_sc