Monday 24 October 2016

Police posing as workmen wield stun grenades in burglary raid outside £10m London property

Four men are in custody after armed police launched a pre-planned operation to thwart an alleged burglary in one of London's most exclusive streets

Martin Evans, Crime Correspondent

Published 24/09/2015 | 07:21

Caption: A witness picture of the police scene at Eaton Place, Belgravia, London
Caption: A witness picture of the police scene at Eaton Place, Belgravia, London

ARMED police using stun grenades swooped on a gang of suspected burglars in one of London’s most prestigious streets in a scene likened by witnesses to something out of a James Bond film.

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Undercover officers posing as workmen were joined by detectives wielding semi-automatic weapons and wearing bullet proof jackets as they surrounded four suspects outside a £10 million property in Belgravia’s Eaton Place.

The alleged raid took place just yards from Eaton Square where some of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful people have homes, including The Duchess of York, Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich and Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone.

Scotland Yard said four men had been arrested as a result of a pre-planned intelligence led operation and were being questioned on suspicion of two counts of conspiracy to burgle.

It is understood the property targeted in the alleged raid is separated into flats.

The normally sedate atmosphere of the exclusive street, which is home to the Hungarian Embassy, was shattered around 3pm on Tuesday by a series of loud bangs which locals described as sounding like gunshots or muffled explosions.

The bangs were understood to be police officers detonating flash and stun grenades to disorientate the suspects who were travelling in a high powered black Audi car.

Neighbours likened the police raid to something out of James Bond

One local resident said: “It was like something out of a James Bond movie. It seemed very unlike what I'd ever experienced in London.

“There was a series of loud bangs - I think seven or eight. They sounded unusual. I didn't know what they were. I thought, 'Is this a muffled bullet?' I wasn't sure.

“I'd never heard that sound before. I'd heard shouting as well. I couldn't make it out though.

“I had a quick look from my window because I was worried, because it sounded a bit like gangs. It sounded like some Russian gangster against some Russian gangsters. It sounded alien.

“I thought maybe a bullet was going to come flying through my window.”

Socialite Tamara Beckwith, 45, who also lives in the vicinity, described seeing police officers swarming around a black Audi, as one of the suspects lay on the pavement with what appeared to be a wound to his head.

She said: “I heard a loud bang in the street but we have builders in the street so I thought one of them had dropped something, but when I went to see what had happened there were police officers in bullet proof jackets running around in the street.

“When I saw that one of the men had been injured I thought perhaps he had been shot.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said no shots had been fired in the incident, but all four suspects, had been injured during the police operation.

The spokesman said: “The men, aged between 24 and 44 years, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit two counts of burglary.

“All four were taken to hospital suffering from minor injuries sustained during the course of their arrest; they have all now been discharged from hospital.”

The spokesman added: “The operation was pre-planned and intelligence-led. Armed officers were in attendance as a precaution. No shots were fired, but distraction devices were used by police.”

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