Raiders grabbed £380,000 haul

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The Independent Online

The gang behind a raid on an exclusive jewellery store stole valuables with an estimated retail value of £380,000, police said last night.

The thieves snatched the haul from the De Beers store in the Royal Exchange shopping arcade in the City of London. The gang also stole watches from a branch of Omega nearby during the five-minute raid.

It is understood the shopping courtyard was protected by wrought iron gates joined by a chain. Once inside, the gang used sledgehammers to smash down two sets of glass doors before battering their way inside the De Beers store adjacent to the exit. The thieves struck at 10pm on Saturday when a red BMW pulled up outside the Grade I-listed Royal Exchange, just yards from the Bank of England. Police believe they used boltcutters to remove the chain and padlock securing the iron gates.

Investigators are examining CCTV images from the arcade and surrounding streets, as well as plate recognition cameras, in a bid to identify the car.

Police officers worked through the night at the store to gather forensic evidence. City of London Police, which is responsible for policing the square mile, said last night no arrests had been made.

Detective Chief Inspector Steven Chandler said: "We are following a number of lines of inquiry and I can reassure the public that every effort is and will be directed to bringing those responsible to justice. We need the assistance of the public in tracing the car used in the offence, the criminals involved and the items stolen."