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By
AFP
Published
Aug 12, 2009
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Man arrested over Britain's biggest gem robbery

By
AFP
Published
Aug 12, 2009

LONDON, Aug 12, 2009 (AFP) - London police have arrested a man in their hunt for the smartly-dressed robbers who pulled off what is thought to be Britain's biggest jewellery heist, a spokesman said Wednesday 12 August.


A model displays jewellery by Graff. Robbers pulled off what is thought to be the country's biggest jewellery heist in a 40-million-pound raid at a chic London shop - Photo: AFP/File

Two gun-toting men walked into the exclusive Graff store on London's swanky New Bond Street and stole 43 rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches with a retail value of 40 million pounds (47 million euros, 65 million dollars).

Scotland Yard said their detectives were pressing on with investigations into last Thursday (6 August)'s raid -- caught on camera by a passerby, in a video posted on YouTube -- and had arrested a man on Monday 10 August in an east London suburb.

"Following the release of CCTV (closed-circuit television) images of two men they want to speak to, officers are currently following up a number of enquiries," a spokesman said.

"A 50-year-old man was arrested for robbery on August 10 in connection with the incident outside a residential address in Ilford.

"He has been subsequently bailed pending further enquiries."

A number of addresses were searched on Tuesday 11 August, he said, adding that the police would not go into further details.

The armed robbery was carried out in broad daylight at 4:40pm last Thursday (6 August). The men arrived in a London black taxi and threatened staff with handguns.

As the robbers left Graff, they dragged a female member of staff with them and fired a warning shot outside the shop, although no-one was injured and the assistant was left behind as they raced off.

Another shot was also fired soon after as the pair abandoned their BMW getaway car nearby and switched to a Mercedes-Benz, before switching to a third car later.

The pair, dressed in grey suits and white shirts and speaking with London accents, were probably helped by at least another two men acting as getaway drivers, reports said.

Among the items stolen were a pair of white round diamond double hoop earrings, a yellow diamond flower necklace, platinum white Marquise diamond ring and a Chronograph men's 45mm watch

Police said it was a "well-planned robbery" conducted by "extremely dangerous" men.

New Bond Street, in the plush Mayfair district, is dotted with big name gem stores including royal jeweller Asprey.

Graff, which is known for its diamonds and caters to celebrities, was also targeted in 2003 in what until now was reportedly Britain's previous most expensive jewellery robbery, worth 23 million pounds.

Stars spotted wearing Graff's jewels include Paris Hilton, Kylie Minogue, Naomi Campbell, Oprah Winfrey and Victoria Beckham.

The latest heist is also thought to be the second biggest robbery in Britain, after a 53 million-pound raid on a Securitas depot in Kent, southeast England, in 2006, police said. A gang tied up staff and stole cash.

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