SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – The recent surge of smash-and-grab robberies in the Bay Area has businesses on edge. But one group of merchants are concerned about being easy targets for the next robbery.

Small merchants who do business in outdoor strip malls and local business districts say they are the most exposed to the criminal element.

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“It’s really sad and it’s unbelievable that things are happening like this,” said Cesar Pascal, who owns Plaza Jewelers with his wife near downtown San Jose.

“They know that Christmas time is here, and stores are getting ready to sell more items and they have the inventory. It’s just really sad and everybody is really worried that they could be next,” Pascal told KPIX 5 on Friday, one day after five robbers targeted a jewelry store at Eastridge Mall.

But in Pascal’s case, it already happened.

Last March, his jewelry store near downtown San Jose was violently robbed by three suspects. They smashed the glass cases and took jewelry, robbed the cash register and pointed guns at his employees.

Surveillance footage of a smash-and-grab robbery at Plaza Jewelers in San Jose, March 2021. (CBS)

Surveillance footage of a smash-and-grab robbery at Plaza Jewelers in San Jose, March 2021. (CBS)

Pascal said one female worker quit the next day after 15 years with the store.

His surveillance cameras, combined with neighbors, captured all the evidence and the getaway car which led to the arrest of three suspects.

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Two are still in custody and one is out on bail.

“A good security system, it definitely pays off,” Pascal said.

Pascal said he’s seen how luxury and mall merchants are rightly getting extra police presence now.

He doesn’t see the same kind of attention in his neighborhood, where customers — or criminals — can walk in off the street.

“Knowing that all these officers are now in one area alone because of what’s going on, it’s more afraid,” he said. “We’re pleading with the mayor and the police chief to divide the police force around the small businesses.”

Pascal does hire private security, but he says its expensive.

His store is now closed an extra day per week, and he’s considering locked doors with a buzzer system to let customers in.

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It could help, but he also runs the risk of driving away customers, just when he needs them the most.