PEMBROKE PINES (CBS4) – It took less than a minute for three masked men, one who had a gun, to steal thousands of dollars of merchandise from a crowded jewelry store in Pembroke Pines.

The robbery happened Wednesday evening at the Jared’s Jewelry Store at Pines Boulevard and Hiatus Road.

The men stole jewelry and a purse and left everyone inside the store terrified.

While detectives spoke to customers and employees, police and witnesses say at least three men wearing masks and carrying at least one gun burst in around 7:50 pm and carried out their crime.  Among the terrified customers in the store was a retired Hialeah police officer.

Two young men were outside the store and watched it happen.

“I said to my friend ‘They’re robbing the store’ as a joke,” said one of the young men. “I looked closer and when I saw the gun I said this place is really getting robbed.”

The young men said they ran and called police and watched the thieves hop in a getaway car.

“We ran out here and they ran to the car and peeled off,” said a second young man.

Pembroke Pines police quickly arrived on scene as did the FBI. The South Florida Violent Crimes and Fugitive Task Force is leading the investigation.

These young men are glad they survived unharmed.

“I didn’t want to get shot,” said one of the young men. “I was thinking about both our lives.”

Police searched in front of the store for clues. Witnesses said there were lots of people outside here Wednesday night and this could have ended badly.

Neighboring businesses said they were concerned after they heard about the robbery.

“It’s a little nerve wracking considering there are only women who work at the European Wax Center and we are too doors down,” said Jason Zeligman of the European Wax Center

Police said they are looking for a black late model Mercedes which they believe may have been stolen.

If you have any information call the Pembroke Pines Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 954 493 TIPS.