Hatton Garden jeweller, 71, caught red-handed with smash and grab watches

Yair Cohen, 71, of Hackney

Yair Cohen, 71, of Hackney - Credit: Archant

A 71-year-old Hatton Garden jeweller was caught red-handed with watches stolen in a smash and grab raid on a luxury jewellery store.

Pensioner Yair Cohen, from Walnut Court, Woodmill Road, Upper Clapton, was convicted last Friday for his part in the crime, which saw thieves dressed in burkas escape with more than £1million worth of watches from the shop in Oxford Street.

Reece Dunford, 31, of Osprey Road, Waltham Abbey, the ‘go-to’ man for handling high-value goods stolen during smash and grabs, had enlisted Cohen to sell on the watches, which he had bought at a discount.

Both were arrested by Met Flying Squad detectives just hours after another smash and grab robbery coordinated by Dunford, which took place at Mappin and Webb in Fenchurch Street, in the City, last April 28.

Dunford handpicked a team of robbers, conscious that police had recent success in arresting smash-and-grab gangs.

At around 10.30am gang leader Vincent Kamara, 28, of Ensleight Street, Camden, Boz Burbridge, 31, of Calthorpe Street, Camden, David Mays, 33, of Chessington Avenue, Bexleyheath, and Danny St Luce, 29, of Sebbon Street, Islington, drove up to the luxury jewellery store on two motorcycles.

They used one of the bikes to burst through the doors and two of the men – believed to be Burbridge and Mays – ran inside, still wearing motorcycle helmets and armed with sledgehammers and an axe. They smashed through the glass cabinets and made off with more than £300,000 of Rolex watches.

Most Read

The watches were dropped off at a house linked to the gang in Islington – but less than three hours later detectives from the Met’s Flying Squad swooped on it, catching Dunford and Cohen red-handed in the living room, surrounded by the stolen watches with the price tags still attached.

Continued enquires led to the arrest of the other individuals involved in 10 smash and grab robberies which date back as far as 2007, including Dunford who pleaded guilty to his involvement in all of them.

Four others pleaded guilty and four men including Cohen were convicted on Friday at Kingston Crown Court. Sentencing will take place on July 29 and 30.