Raiders beat diamond dealer with hammer in €1m robbery
A DIAMOND dealer bravely tackled an armed gang as they robbed him of €1m worth of precious stones and jewellery as well as cash in his hotel bedroom early yesterday.
Wholesale jeweller Noah Stefancki (64) was battered on the head with a hammer as he tackled one of the three raiders, but failed to prevent them taking his suitcase.
Mr Stefancki told gardai he had lost his life savings in the robbery of the jewels, which were not insured.
Russian-born Mr Stefancki, who lives and works in Southampton in England, is a regular visitor here and travels around the country for business deals with local jewellers.
He booked a room in the Travelodge hotel in Ballymun after flying into Dublin Airport as he had stayed there previously and was known to some of the staff.
Gardai believe he was the victim of opportunistic local criminals, who became aware that he was carrying a valuable haul in his suitcase, and kept watch on his movements until they established where he was staying.
Officers suspect that the thugs did not anticipate such a major haul when they carried out the robbery.
Publicity around the raid may now attract the attention of an organised crime gang boss, who could seek a slice of the proceeds.
Mr Stefancki was in his bedroom at around 12.15am when three masked raiders, armed with a gun and a hammer, forced their way in.
He lunged at the closest member of the gang and attempted to stop him from grabbing the suitcase.
But he was thumped twice on the head with the hammer and the gang escaped from the hotel on foot.
They were pursued by Mr Stefancki on to Shangan Road but the three then turned into Coultry Road and escaped.
There was no sign of any getaway car.
Mr Stefancki immediately returned to the hotel and raised the alarm. After gardai arrived at the scene, he was taken to the Mater Hospital for treatment for lacerations to his head. He was later discharged.
Gardai last night described one of the raiders as 5ft 9in and of thin build. He was wearing a grey tracksuit top.
A second raider wore a black and white top with a zig-zag design while the third was 6ft 1in, of thin build and appeared to be in charge. All three wore black balaclavas.
Officers at Ballymun garda station have appealed to anybody who was in the vicinity of the Travelodge hotel between midnight and 12.30am yesterday to contact them at 01 6664400.