Chuck Lire, 80, said in 32 years he has never had anyone try to steal from him, but his instincts kicked in when people finally did.
The burglary happened at Riverton Jewelers around 3:50 p.m. on Feb. 2. Lire was minding his store when one man smashed his jewelry case. Lire ran into action to try to stop another suspect, raising his fists in the air. Sensing a fight, the men, likely 50 years his junior, ran away.
"It wasn't a matter of fighting, it was just protecting what belongs to me," said Lire.
He said the men got away with 15 to 20 watches worth around $40,000, but he feels he saved many more. Lire said the thought of them hitting him back or being armed with a gun did not even cross his mind.
Lire first trained in the army when Harry Truman was president. He fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
"You always come in with your antennas up," said Lire.
Master jeweler Ara Arsinian was working in the back of the store when the men came in. He couldn't believe it when Lire ran after them.
"Sometimes we do things, we act without thinking," said Arsinian.
Lire has eight different security cameras set up and hopes someone will be able to identify the suspects. Lire said he hopes they're caught soon. For now, he'll likely be increasing his security, but he won't be retiring anytime soon.
The first suspect was described as a Hispanic man between 25 and 30 years old, standing 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall and weighing around 170 pounds. The second suspect was described as a Hispanic man between 20 to 25 years old, standing 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds.
Police said the suspects fled in a light-colored compact car. The two men were seen on surveillance video the day before posing as customers.
Anyone with information was asked to call police at (877) LAPD-24-7.