A GANG made off with £400,000 worth of Asian jewellery after fooling a shop owner into believing they were police officers. Pretending to carry out a drugs raid, the men appeared to be genuine policemen with uniforms, radios, evidence bags, bullet-proof vests, and what appeared to be authentic ID and search warrants.
They managed to get away with a hoard of bangles, necklaces, brooches, bracelets and precious jewellery, some of it 22 carat gold, from both the jeweller’s home and his shop in Ilford, Essex.
In total, the operation took two hours. Richard Teden of Teden & Company Chartered Loss Adjusters, who are dealing with the insurance claim, said: “This was an audacious theft. Their acting was so good that they were completely convincing.”
The raid took place on July 12 just before 10am, when four members of the gang arrived at the jeweller’s house in an unmarked BMW 7 Series with a blue flashing light on the roof.
One of the men claimed to be a CID officer and produced an identity card and a warrant to search the jeweller’s home and trading premises for drugs.
They conducted a thorough search of the residence, placing money and jewellery into evidence bags and logging everything they took into a record book. They allowed no communication between any of the occupants of the house, claiming it was a matter of police procedure.
Mr Teden said: “They were remarkably polite and used no violence. They even appeared in complete control when a man turned up making a delivery.”
A little later a few more uniformed members of the gang arrived and took the jeweller to his shop at around 11am. They carried out a thorough “inspection” of his premises, insisting that the safes be opened so they could be searched for drugs.
While the jeweller and two members of staff were kept distracted in the basement under the pretence that a police sniffer dog would shortly be arriving to check the area, the other uniformed “police” emptied the safes on the ground floor and loaded the majority of the stock into a brand new Ford transit.
Onlookers and other shopkeepers standing outside the building witnessed the arrival of the men and the loading of the van. They, too, were fooled by the act, believing that the jeweller was most likely in trouble with Customs and Excise.
When the jeweller’s father began to have doubts about the officers and asked if he could telephone Ilford Police Station, he was not allowed to do so. The “CID officer” stated that any information imparted could alert others to the possibility that their properties were also about to be raided by the police.
It was only after the men had left that it became apparent that a theft had occurred. “Since this one went so smoothly I suspect that they may carry out this kind of robbery again,” said Mr. Teden.
Jewellers in the London area are now being urged to show caution when approached by men carrying seemingly authentic identification in order to carry out a search. Mr Teden described the single search warrant that the thieves left in Ilford as “a very fine forgery”.
He said that any jewellers approached with ID and search warrants should insist on dialling 999 to check out their authenticity. “If they are thieves, then I suspect that they will depart the premises expeditiously,” he said.
The insurers are offering a reward of up to £30,000, subject to conditions, for information about the stolen jewellery.
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