Times are hard and it's turning into the Wild West on the streets of L.A. We told you recently about a rash of smash-and-grab jewelry store robberies in downtown and Koreatown. What is this, Las Vegas? The Los Angeles Times says the high value of gold has been a major factor in the crime spree.

But let's not leave diamonds out of the conversation. They're a girl's, and a criminal's, best friend, apparently.

A diamond salesman in North Hollywood found that out the hard way last night when …

… two cars boxed him in on a North Hollywood street and four or five masked, black-clad men approached his car, smashed windows, and went for a backpack containing $2 million worth of the gems, according to what LAPD Media Relations confirmed to the Weekly today.

One of the vehicles bumped the salesman from behind while the other pulled in front, cops said.

The men didn't get the goods at first: The victim tried to fend the men off, but they beat him about the head and face and finally got the goods before taking off, the LAPD said. It doesn't appear the salesman was seriously injured, though.

It all went down on Bellaire Avenue near Burbank Boulevard about 10:10 p.m. Thursday, according to police.

Cops responding to a nearby hit-and-run report think they found one of the getaway cars — abandoned.

Have any info on this brazen robbery? Call the LAPD: 818-623-4016.


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