Pawn shop robbed

Two men, one of whom was armed with a hand gun, robbed a northern Prince William County pawn shop Thursday night, tying up the store’s owner and two customers and making off with an estimated $60,000 worth of jewelry, guns and cash, police and witnesses said Friday.

Vijay Sharma, the owner of Auto Pawn at 7221 Centreville Road, was working alone just before 6 p.m. when the two suspects robbed the store of cash, 18 boxes of gold and diamonds — including a one carat gem — and seven guns.

The men bound Sharma and the two customers’ hands with duct tape.

“It was pretty scary,” said Sharma, who was not armed at the time, but now keeps a gun close by. “That was the first time I’ve ever been robbed.”

After the men left the store, Sharma walked to the front counter, pushed the panic button and called 911, with his hands still bound.

Sharma, who has owned Auto Pawn for two years, said that he recognized one of the robbers.

“One of the guys came around here two weeks ago,” Sharma said. “When I saw him come in [Thursday], I though he was going to buy something. I recognized him right away.”

The men are both described as black, police said. The man carrying the hand gun was light-skinned, aged 35-40, approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing approximately 135 pounds. He was wearing a dark shirt and blue jeans, according to police reports.

The other intruder had a medium complexion, was 6 feet 3 inches tall, 235 pounds and wore a green jacket, police said.

Auto Pawn, which also carries electronics, sports equipment and power tools, is the last store on the left end of shopping center on Centreville Road.

Marcia Walker, a receptionist at JMU Tax & Finance in the same plaza, said that she was working at the time of the robbery, but didn’t realize anything was going on until the police arrived.

“It’s weird that you can just be sitting here and have that go on right next door without knowing it,” Walker said. “It worries you a little, but we don’t have anything to steal here other than personal stuff.

Shawn Walker, an employee at Auto Pawn and unrelated to Marcia Walker, was in Maryland at the time of the burglary, but rushed back as soon as he heard.

Walker said that the police may have a strong lead from the finger prints left on the duct tape. Detective Dennis Mangan, a Prince William County spokesman, would not comment on the prints.

One of the customers in the store at the time of the burglary was an elderly man from El Salvador, who had recently immigrated to the United States, Walker said.

“They said he came here because [it was] too violent back home,” Walker said.

Staff writer Adam H. Beasley can be reached at (703) 878-8065.

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