Haggerston jewel thief: Video of Bournemouth raid

Moment jewel gang smashed their way into shop.

A HAGGERSTON man who was part of a gang of jewel thieves who smashed their way into shops with a sledgehammer and made off with �3.5 million has been jailed for seven years.

Kevin Cook, 28, of Marsworth House, Whiston Road, was just one of a 30-strong highly organised criminal mob who hit shops from as far afield as Kensington and Antwerp in Belgium.

In the raids, a group of up to 4 members dressed in white overalls with balaclavas would arm themselves with sledgehammers, axes and CS spray and smash their way into shops.

Cook was convicted last year of three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery and sentenced on Friday February 4 at Kingston-Upon-Thames Crown Court.

The robberies took place at jewellers in Wimbledon, Brighton and Bournemouth.

In all, 29 men and one woman were involved in the 33 different robberies which included one motorcycle shop where staff was tied up while bikes were stolen.

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The bikes were then used for other robberies as getaway vehicles.

The Met’s Flying Squad was first alerted to the raids in January 2009 and quickly identified the ringleaders who would target the jewellery shops, conduct research and reconnaissance missions before purchasing equipment including overalls, sledge hammers and other weapons.

They would then recruit associates to commit the raids.

The first arrests came about in March 2009 when five men, not including Cook, were in the process of raiding a jewellers in Guildford.

The remaining gang members were arrested, charged and tried after this first group fell.

Detective Chief Inspector Pam Mace, of the Met’s Flying Squad based at Barnes, said: “The incidents were terrifying for the staff members and their customers who were caught up in them; it is our duty to protect people from this level of violence.

“These defendants operated as an organised criminal network, meticulously planning and carrying out the most brazen daylight raids.”