Five jailed for smash-and-grab raid on jewellers

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The Independent Online

Five men who pulled off a £330,000 smash-and-grab raid on a high profile jewellers were jailed today, police said.

The gang targeted the Ernest Jones store in Oxford Street, central London, on September 5 last year, pulling up on three motorbikes with pillion passengers before using sledgehammers to smash a side window.

They escaped just two minutes later, scattering crowds of pedestrians as they rode across pavements, taking with them almost 50 Breitling and Rolex watches, Scotland Yard said.

But their escape was filmed on a mobile phone camera by an off-duty police officer.

The gang were caught following reports of a group driving motorbikes at speed on the Triangle Estate in Islington, north London, later that day, police said.

Officers raided a lock-up garage on the estate and seized four stolen motorbikes, a claw hammer, an empty helmet bag and clothing.

The five men sentenced today all admitted conspiring to rob the jewellers.

Mathew Pitt, 26, of Fleet Road, Camden, north London, and Craig Wallace, 22, of Sussex Way, Islington, north London, were jailed for six years each for their roles in the raids.

Kether Whatley, 23, of Clock View Crescent, Islington, north London, was jailed for five years, with a further one-year sentence for handling stolen goods from a separate robbery.

Reed Roberts, 19, of Cubitt Street, Camden Town, and Anthony Leader, 20, of Sidmouth Street, Camden Town, were both jailed for four years for their roles.

A sixth man remains on the run, police said.

Detective Sergeant Richard Baker, of the Met's Westminster crime squad, said: "Today's result is another success in our ongoing operation to tackle smash-and-grabs, not just in the West End but across London.

"By getting these five men off the streets I am sure we have prevented a significant number of further smash-and-grabs from occurring in central London."