Three men have been charged in relation to southern Sydney jewellery robberies
Police swoop in jewellery robbery spree
NSW Police have struck a blow in their investigations into a string of
up to 17 jewellery robberies across southern Sydney, arresting three
suspects in relation to two of the crimes.
NSW Police say they are investigating nine jewellery stores robberies in Southern Sydney however that number could climb to as high as 17 if anecdotal reports by jewellers are correct. Jeweller’s investigations have confirmed 11 robberies in the Sutherland Shire area of southern Sydney since April.
Sutherland Local Area Command crime manager, Detective Inspector Terry O’Neill confirmed to Jeweller that three males, aged 17, 21 and 31, have been arrested and refused bail for allegedly breaking into two jewellery stores in Engadine.
“I can indicate a number of arrests were made yesterday [last Thursday] and three males have been charged with a number of offences,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill said that investigations were still continuing on nine other jewellery store robberies in the area but could not yet confirm if the same men were responsible.
“Sometimes a group of thieves might act together and sometimes individuals within the group will commit a separate crime, so at this stage we are still investigating whether all robberies are connected,” he added.
Sutherland Shire spree
Jeweller was first alerted to a possible string of robberies in Sutherland Shire and surrounds last week by Liz Stevens, owner of antique jewellery store Chiltons Miranda, which was robbed just a fortnight ago.
Stevens told Jeweller that she believed there were around 17 robberies orchestrated by a group using similar tactics at each burglary.
“They shattered every cabinet in my antique jewellery shop,” she said. “Our store used to be a bank and has a metal plated solid timber door, but they ripped it right off the door of its hinges with a heavy bollard, splitting it in half.
“They typically come in during the day and act suspiciously, ask about heavy gold chains, and then hit you that night,” she added. “They are quite brazen, they seem to wear some type of miner's torch on their heads, and use sledgehammers to go to town on your shop."
Stevens said the group had mastered its burglary strategy and executed it rapidly.
“There’s three men, they’re skinny guys but they’re fit,” she said. “One man has a noticeable neck tattoo and a tattoo on his leg of a big cross. They're in and out within three minutes, they've got it down pat, and they’re lightning fast.”
Jeweller conducted enquiries into the suspected robberies, directly confirming with 11 jewellers in the Sutherland Shire and surrounding area that they had been robbed in the last two months. Some stores have even been robbed twice. Several more stores were unavailable for comment but are believed to have also been broken into recently.
Tim Hocking, of Miranda Jewellery Workshop, was robbed on March 28, and was broken into again two weeks ago. He reported that the criminals used a similar strategy to the Chiltons theft.
“They bashed the front door in, the cabinet, and the strong room, and just took random stuff,” he said. “The second time they couldn’t get in the front door, they smashed a laminated window and eventually forced their way in, but got nothing that time. We were using different locks. “
Hocking also reiterated the boldness of the burglary.
“They’re doing this inside three minutes, there are alarms screaming in their ears, and neighbours screaming,” he said, “and they’re being been chased down the road because they don’t have a car. It’s incredibly brazen.”
Hocking said that after the first robbery his father, Bob, tried to warn other jewellers in the area, but found many had already had already had similar experiences.
“Dad rang other jewellers he knew to warn them, and lo and behold, they had been robbed already,” Hocking said.
Jewellery retailers supporting each other
The string of robberies has highlighted how strong the jewellery retailer network is in southern Sydney. The robberies have attracted little media attention, but many jewellers in the area were aware of the robberies and have been assisting each other.
The National Council of Jewellery Valuers (NCJV) also helped spread the word, sending an email to NSW members when it was informed of the thefts.
“The day I was made aware, I sent the email out to the members,” NSW NCJV executive officer Graham Easy told Jeweller. “They shatter cases and they take stuff, they scratch around the safe but don’t spend too much time trying to break in. My main advice to retailers would be to put everything away every night securely in the safe so there is nothing for them to take.”
Easy said the burglars’ organisation was skilled, and that they most likely had a supply chain arranged for selling the stolen jewellery.
“My guess is if they are professionals, they would either sell-on the products interstate or melt it down, torch it all in to a glob of gold, and take it to a gold refiner,” Easy explained. “They could even have pawnbrokers in other suburbs. I believe they would have an organised chain of disposal. You have to admire they are good at what they do even though we don’t like it, they’re not making it up as they go.”
Although the Police seem to have made significant progress on the case, Detective O’Neill said that investigations are not helped by the lack of adequate CCTV of robberies committed at night.
“While it’s not exclusive to jewellery stores, our investigations are not helped when CCTV coverage cannot capture a good image of offenders because the lights in the store do not come on,” he said.
O’Neill advised jewellery stores to install motion sensor security equipment where CCTV cameras and store lighting is activated when movement occurs.
WATCH VIDEO - Brazen ROBBERYIn an unrelated incident, brazen thieves on a motorbike robbed this Melbourne jewellery store in broad daylight while staff watched on.
Posted June 12, 2012