A mid-afternoon armed robbery Friday at the Talbots store at Tanger Outlet Center 1 led to an hours-long search for four men but no arrests in what authorities called a brazen crime.
Two men wearing hoods and ski masks entered the Talbots at about 2 p.m. through a door propped open in the rear of the building. One was armed with a pistol, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
The men grabbed a bank bag from a clerk and demanded that the store's safe be opened. They ran out the back door with an undisclosed amount of money and jumped into a dark-blue, four-door Nissan Altima with tinted windows.
Two other men were already inside the car, according to Capt. Bob Bromage. The four men took off on U.S. 278 toward Burnt Church Road, he said.
No injuries were reported.
Deputies searched the surrounding area for a few hours but didn't find the suspects or their getaway vehicle.
"We don't know if they targeted the place or saw an opportunity with the door being propped open," Bromage said. "Armed robberies in the middle of the afternoon are infrequent, but they do occur. It is brazen."
He added that the Sheriff's Office has not noticed a pattern of armed robberies at the outlet centers in greater Bluffton.
Attempts Friday afternoon to reach a Talbots representative and outlet center general manager LaDonna Shamlou were unsuccessful.
A Talbots employee who declined to provide her name said she was working in the front of the store when the robbery occurred and was unaware of what was happening until deputies arrived. She said the clerk and other store employees were "shaken" by the incident.
The two men who entered the store were described as black, with medium builds, between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10 and believed to be 16 to 25 years old. The two men waiting in the getaway car were described only as black males.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeonHiltonHead.