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August 13, 2009

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Posh band of robbers loots gems in London

TWO well-dressed thieves walked into a London Bond Street jewelry store last week and, after brandishing handguns at shop workers, made off with 40 million pounds (US$66 million) worth of gems in one of Britain's biggest jewelry heists, police said.

Security camera footage released by police on Tuesday shows two men in crisp suits entering Graff Diamonds' flagship store last Thursday afternoon - the third time a Graff store in London had been targeted in a high-profile raid in the past six years.

The men stole dozens of high-end rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches and fired two gunshots into the ground as they escaped in a series of getaway cars, police said. No one was hurt.

The theft was among the biggest heists in British history - far outstripping the 1963 Great Train Robbery in which 2 million pounds were lost.

Last week's theft, however, was topped by the 2006 robbery of 53 million pounds in cash from a security company depot in southern England and was rivaled by the 1987 theft of an estimated 40 million pounds from the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center in London.

Items stolen in last Thursday's robbery included a pair of white diamond double hoop earrings, a flowing flower necklace with yellow diamond petals, a platinum white Marquise diamond ring and a Chronograff watch, according to the police.

Detectives have arrested a 50-year-old man in connection with the robbery, police said yesterday.

The man was held on suspicion of robbery outside a house in Ilford in east London on Monday, Scotland Yard said. He has been released on bail pending further inquiries.


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