Muggers stalk the super-rich

Carlton TV chief is latest victim of gangs who lie in wait for the wealthy
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A gang of robbers is targeting the super rich in London and are believed to be responsible for up to 16 attacks in which hundreds of thousands of pounds of jewels have been stolen.

It is understood that Scotland Yard have been tracking the team of criminals since Christmas although they are believed to have been carrying out assaults since June.

In most cases gang members have followed their targets and robbed them, often at knife point, as they reach their homes. The robbers cruise expensive areas of London on the look-out for rich-looking people with valuable jewellery, clothes and cars.

The latest incident involved Michael Green, the chairman of Charlton Communications, who was stabbed by a mugger at the garage of his home in Mayfair.

Mr Green was slashed across the face and hands and his wife Tessa's pounds 1,000 necklace was snatched along with pounds 500 and some credit cards during the attack on Tuesday night.

Other cases bearing similar hallmarks include Lady Weidenfeld, the wife of one of Britain's leading publishing tycoons, who was attacked and robbed of pounds 100,000 worth of jewellery outside her Chelsea flat, on the Chelsea Embankment in February.

Lady Weidenfeld, 51, the fourth wife of Lord Weidenfeld, chairman of publishing company Weidenfeld and Nicolson, was not harmed.

Last July Bernie Ecclestone, president of the Formula One Constructors' Association, was beaten up when he tried to shield his wife from two robbers who lay in wait outside their home.

Mr Ecclestone, 65, and his wife, Slavica, were approached by two men as they got out of their car near their home in London's Chelsea Square.

The assailants stole Mrs Ecclestone's ring, valued at between pounds 600,000 and pounds 700,000.

A month earlier Helen Moran, wife of Christopher Moran, one of Britain's wealthiest men, was attacked in the underground car park of her Chelsea home. The gang took her handbag and a pounds 15,000 Rolex watch and threatened her twin eight-year-old sons.

In another attack a couple had pounds 50,000 worth of jewellery snatched outside their home in Hampstead, north west London, after being threatened by two men with a knife.

Yet more people have been targeted in the wealthy areas of Park Lane, Belgravia, and St John's Wood, in central and west London.

A police source said: "It appears to be a team of robbers who simply set out to look for anyone with an expensive car, clothes, or jewellery, and follow them home then rob them at knife point.

"We are looking at a series of linked attacks - up to 16.

"It's difficult to know how long they have been operating because they probably switch from one type of crime to another."

There are believed to be at least ten members of the gang.

Violent crime in London rose sharply last year with assaults and other offences involving violence against people jumping by 28 per cent. Robberies including mugging leapt by 11 per cent.

Meanwhile Michael Green, the television executive, has returned to work two days after his attack.

The robbery happened as Mr Green and his wife were returning home in their blue Rolls-Royce Corniche. Mr Green drove into his garage, but as soon as he got out of the car three men ran inside and threatened them with a 12in knife.

Detectives believe the robbers were filmed on the security camera. The video shows the Greens' Rolls-Royce arriving at their Mayfair home at around 10.15pm on Tuesday. Moments later, a dark blue BMW 5 series is seen coming into view.

Police later said they were hunting three black men, who wore dark clothing and balaclavas, in connection with the attack.

Detective Superintendent Brian Edwards, of the Metropolitan police major investigation squad, who is leading the inquiry, said the suggestion that a single gang was targeting the rich was "pure speculation".