WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Hurricane Florence hit Snowden's Jewelers at University Center Shopping Center hard. There's roof damage, the carpet is soaked, but those are the least of the owner's worries right now. During the height of the storm, someone broke in, smashed through the cases, and stole more than $100,000 worth of jewelry.
"They took bridal sets, they took gold chains, and they took some watches from us," said owner Chris Snowden. "Plus the damage, they busted up my cases, they busted up my front door. I walked in and the storm did a whole bunch of damage from roof leaks, but on top of that all of the glass damage that we're gonna have to replace. It's just, it's devastating."
Broken glass mixed with broken branches. Clearly part of the mess was caused by Florence. But not all of this is Mother Nature's fault.
"Right when the eye wall was passing over us, my alarm went off. I got a call that my alarm had sounded and they wanted to know if I wanted the police dispatched," Snowden recalled. "But it was 100-mile-an-hour winds going on. The police weren't available, and I certainly wasn't available to leave."
Left helpless to stop the criminals taking advantage of his store in the middle of one of the worst natural disasters North Carolina has ever seen, Snowden could only wait as the tempest thrashed. But what he found knocked the wind right out of him.
"I showed up and my heart just sank. My front door was busted out, several of my showcases were busted and jewelry was taken from it. With everything that was going on, I just found it hard to believe that someone would take advantage of us in that type of a situation."
Snowden says he's alerted pawn shops who are keeping an eye out for the jewelry that was swiped from his store. But he still can't figure out why.
"You know there's desperation going on and people are using the excuse of needing necessity, but this isn't something that someone needs for survival."
Through the prism of the shards of glass left by the thieves, Snowden is hopeful something will give and someone will speak up. He's also determined to reopen.
"My father and I started this business 28 years ago. We've worked day in and day out in the store every day of the week for the last 28 years," Snowden said.
Chris Snowden is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.