Monday 26 September 2016

Flying Squad officer in serious condition after police thwart smash-and-grab robbery at luxury watch store

Margaret Davis and Dominic Harris

Published 03/08/2016 | 19:44

Police intercepting armed robbers in Piccadilly, London, before they attempted to rob a jeweller Credit: @Mick7777Francis/PA Wire
Police intercepting armed robbers in Piccadilly, London, before they attempted to rob a jeweller Credit: @Mick7777Francis/PA Wire
A security guard outside the Chronext shop in Piccadilly, London after a four-strong gang armed with a machete and an axe and riding two mopeds tried to rob the luxury watch store Credit: Thomas Hornall/PA Wire

A member of the Flying Squad is in hospital in a serious condition after being run down when officers thwarted a smash-and-grab robbery at a luxury watch store in London's West End.

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A four-strong gang armed with a machete and an axe and riding two mopeds targeted the Chronext shop in Piccadilly at 11.25am on Wednesday.

The men smashed the windows of the store and tried to make off with valuable watches, but were stopped in their tracks when Scotland Yard's anti-robbery team moved in after receiving a tip-off.

Officers fired their Tasers a number of times as the gang tried to flee and four of the Flying Squad were injured as they made arrests.

One was left in a serious condition after he was mown down by a robber fleeing on a moped. The three others suffered minor injuries, Scotland Yard said.

Witnesses posted pictures online of two of the suspects pinned to the floor by police as one of the bikes lay on its side nearby. One shot showed debris including what appeared to be a machete.

Police intercepting armed robbers in Piccadilly, London, before they attempted to rob a jewellers Credit: @Mick7777Francis/PA Wire
Police intercepting armed robbers in Piccadilly, London, before they attempted to rob a jewellers Credit: @Mick7777Francis/PA Wire

All four men were arrested on suspicion of robbery and have been taken to central London police stations. One of those arrested reported being unwell and has been transferred to hospital.

An axe, knives and the stolen jewellery were all recovered at the scene.

Detective Superintendent Craig Turner said: "Our officers are absolutely committed to keeping London safe and target the criminals who pose a danger to Londoners and our city businesses day in, day out.

"They know that this work carries with it very real risks and dangers but take this in their stride as part of serving the public.

"However, today's events highlight how the reckless behaviour of those determined to evade justice, heedless of the consequences, can have a real impact on all those involved."

Chronext chief executive Philipp Man, 25, who flew in from Zurich when he heard about the attack, said the raid resulted in around £500,000 worth of damage.

He told the Press Association: "It's quite scary knowing you will be robbed in advance.

"We have ramped up all security in the past month, particularly in Germany and Switzerland.

"I think we were targeted because we have a lot of stock and watches are quite easy to sell. But if you are a robber this is not the smartest place to target.

"We are in Mayfair, one of the most frequented streets in London. It's meant to be one of the safest areas.

"You could see that these were not professionals. A machete is pretty medieval."

He added: "We have two Israelis and a Colombian on staff so they are accustomed to extraordinary situations."

Speaking about police trying to get into the shop before the raid, he said: "We deal with a lot of fraud, so we actually had to check the police were real."

Mr Man confirmed all stock is insured, and that no customer stock was taken.

He added: "We were planning on refurbishing the shop anyway."

Eduard Chirila, 38, a security guard working at the time, said he was informed by the police beforehand to "take care of the staff" and put them in the back room.

Describing the raid, he said: "Two robbers got into the shop, they were wearing helmets.

"One smashed the cabinet but as soon as he did, he saw police coming out and his action changed and they both tried to get away."

Press Association

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