Claims that jewel thief identified after DNA found

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The Independent Online

One member of an organised crime gang who carried out Britain's biggest diamond robbery has been identified after police found his DNA, it was claimed today.

A team of Scotland Yard forensic specialists continues to scour clues left by those behind the £40m heist at Graff Diamonds.

They are examining two cars and a motorbike used in a sophisticated getaway plan, a discarded handgun and materials used to disguise two armed robbers.

According to a report in The Times, Flying Squad officers have been passed the identity of one suspect after his DNA was found.

The news means the man's details are held on police databases and open up a wealth of fresh leads for investigators trying to piece together who is behind the crime.

It is the biggest breakthrough since the audacious robbery took place 12 days ago in Mayfair, central London.

And it came after officers admitted they were surprised at the lack of information coming through from the criminal underworld about the raid.

Good quality CCTV images of the two men carrying out the robbery and visiting the jeweller two days earlier have been published around the world.

Police also offered an unprecedented £1m reward for information leading to the gang.

But although police have been passed several potential names for the pair, they are yet to trace them.

Officers have seized materials from make-up artists who unwittingly helped the men by altering their hair and skin tone to make them look older.

The men caught a black taxi across London to the New Bond Street shop where a woman staff member was ordered to put 43 items of jewellery in a bag.

As the men left the shop they fired at a security guard before getting into a blue BMW, passing a package to a motorcyclist before crashing into a taxi nearby.

They then fired a second shot as members of the public attempted to intervene before getting into a silver Mercedes and then a people carrier.

A loaded handgun left in one of the vehicles has been passed to the National Ballistics Intelligence Service to see if it can be linked to other crimes.

Police analysts were also examining mobile phone records from nearby masts after the men were captured on camera making a call.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman declined to comment.