Santa Monica Police Forensics expert inspects a red Prius involved in a local armed robbery in the parking lot of Poquito Mas on Wilshire and 21st in Santa Monica, Calif., Tuesday, April 26, 2011. Moments before, three masked gunman allegedly approached a man in the lot and stole approximately $1.5million dollars worth of jewelry. The three gunman got away in a silver Nissan. (photo by Stephanie Salvatore) (photo by Photo Courtesy Stephanie Salvatore)

WILSHIRE BLVD — Santa Monica police are looking for three masked suspects who stole an estimated $1.5 million worth of jewelry from a salesman who was ambushed in a parking lot next to the Veggie Grill, authorities said.

SMPD Sgt. Richard Lewis said the victim flew in from New York and was visiting local jewelry stores Tuesday in an attempt to sell some merchandise. He entered the Veggie Grill, had lunch and around 2 p.m. returned to his car, which was parked in the lot to the rear of the restaurant.

That’s when police said three men wearing masks suddenly appeared and surrounded the vehicle. Two men smashed the driver’s side and passenger’s side windows. At least one pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the victim while a second suspect reached into the car and grabbed a black case containing the jewelry that was sitting on the passenger’s seat.

A third suspect is believed to have punctured one of the car’s tires.

The three suspects then fled in what was described as a four-door, gray or metallic colored, newer model Nissan Altima or Sentra. The car was last seen heading north on 21st Street.

“No shots were fired and no one was injured,” Lewis said.

Detectives are still trying to determine the value of the loss and are poring over video footage and other evidence.

Those who may have more information on the robbery can contact the SMPD at (310) 458-8491.

kevinh@www.smdp.com

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