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The trade are being warned to be extra vigilant after a number of dealers in the area told ATG that London’s jewellery quarter is increasingly becoming a target for criminals. The thieves are adopting a number of approaches, each designed to create a distraction or appeal to people’s better nature.

On Wednesday, November 7 a Norfolk dealer was approached by an attractive South American girl while he was walking from Hatton Garden to Clerkenwell.

The girl, described as being in her mid 20s, with shoulder-length dark hair and well dressed, pointed to an orange stain on the back of his coat and offered to help clean it up.

This would have involved him removing his coat and putting his bag on the pavement, which would then have been grabbed by an accomplice. Suspicious, the dealer ignored her and kept walking.

Having done his business in Clerkenwell, he decided to catch a taxi back and there was a tap on the window just before they drove off.

This time, a well-dressed man with a pock-marked face said that the jewellery shop the dealer had just visited were trying to get him back in to pick up something he had left behind. Again he was suspicious and told the taxi driver to wind the window up and keep going.

A week later, on Tuesday, November 13, Woolley and Wallis jewellery specialist Jonathan Edwards visited Hatton Garden and was also approached by a girl fitting the same description.

As he was driving out of the NCP car park he saw her drop the contents of her handbag in front of his car, preventing him from driving away. Equally suspicious, he stayed in the car until she finally picked everything up and then drove off. At the next junction towards Hatton Garden he received a tap on the window from a man who pointed out a flat tyre. He ignored the offer of help and continued to drive, but when he reached a safe distance, he stopped his car and discovered the tyre had been slashed.

Islington police are investigating the incidents.