Sunday, 23 September 2018
ARMED robbers escaped after a daring raid on a jeweller’s shop in Henley town centre.
The three men — dressed from head to toe in black and with their faces covered — struck at Anthony Paul Jewellery in Bell Street shortly before 11am on Wednesday.
One was carrying a knife and another held a club hammer which he used to smash the right-hand pane of the shop’s front windows.
Then all three began stuffing jewellery, mostly diamond engagement rings in cases, into rucksacks, one of which was pink.
A member of staff approached the men but was ordered to get back.
After a less than a minute, the men left the jewellers as shoppers looked on in shock.
They fled along the alleyway on the opposite side of the street between Sainsbury’s and Boots, which emerges on to the King’s Road car park, where they made off in a vehicle thought to be a silver Audi.
The raiders had also come through the passageway, which had been gated to reduce the risk of crime but the men forced the combination lock.
Police were on the scene within five minutes.
Paul Jeffrey, a volunteer collector for Leukaemia Care, was outside Boots when he saw what happened.
Mr Jeffrey, 47, of Leaver Road, Henley, said: “One of the men had his face completely covered, another was white and another had a ginger beard.
“The last one had a club hammer in his pocket and just went for the window. There was a loud ‘bang, bang, bang’ as he hit it which made everyone turn and look.
“Within two or three seconds he’d broken through and they were just grabbing things and shoving them in their bags — it was absolutely unbelievable.
“As I was watching them, it did cross my mind to block off the alleyway with my mobility scooter but the police said I was right not to have done that.
“They could have been armed with anything and it wouldn’t have been worth getting hurt for.
“The street was pretty busy when it happened. I wouldn’t say people were scared but definitely shocked.
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years and have never seen anything like it before.
“The police were here very quickly. I really hope they catch up with them and these people get put away for a long time because nobody should get away with it.” Police officers guarded the door to the shop while detectives interviewed staff and eyewitnesses on the street.
Forensics teams wearing protective face masks and gloves scanned the inside of the display cases with torches in the hope of finding fingerprints and the alleyway was taped off to check for clues.
Passers-by were stopping the police to ask what had happened and some crossed the street to stare at the shattered display.
The value of the haul is unknown but there were more than 20 empty spaces on the shelves and many of the rings the robbers left behind were worth more than £2,000.
Anthony Paul Jewellery has its flagship branch in Windsor and another shop in Marlow. The company did not want to comment.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Alun Watkins of Abingdon Force CID, said: "Because of the time of day, there will be a number of witnesses to this incident. We believe some people may have captured footage on mobile phones.
"We are asking anyone who saw what happened, or who may have information and footage, to contact us on 101 quoting URN 425 (1/8)."
The men are described as about 6ft tall, aged in their 20s and of athletic build.
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