Jewellery stores pool information to foil criminals

Matthew Ferry is pictured on CCTV robbing Laing's in Frederick Street. Picture: comp
Matthew Ferry is pictured on CCTV robbing Laing's in Frederick Street. Picture: comp
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AN intelligence-sharing scheme has been launched to stop jewellery raids following a spate of high-profile armed robberies.

Several city centre jewellers have already joined forces, with others due to sign up over the next few weeks.

“Gold Watch” follows the success of similar schemes aimed at tackling shoplifting and hotel crime.

It has been launched by Business Improvement District company Essential Edinburgh, in partnership with Police Scotland, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) and jewellers.

Roddy Smith, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said: “The initiative for this came from the jewellers themselves, and they asked what might be done. We have seen similar schemes, based on sharing and pooling information quickly, have a real impact in cutting down on shoplifting and on hotel crime in the BID area, and we are very hopeful that this scheme will also help provide early warning and the ability to reduce the issues faced by jewellers, with Essential Edinburgh covering the cost.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams added: “Following on from the success of the ‘Check In’ and ‘Check Out’ schemes, where information and intelligence is shared among hotel premises and retail outlets, I am delighted to support the launch of ‘Gold Watch’.

“This initiative has been driven by our city centre jewellers and is designed to share information and intelligence in real time to assist in the prevention and detection of theft and robbery.”

In March, Matthew Ferry, 24, stole watches worth almost £250,000 from Laing the Jewellers before hijacking a private taxi to make his escape.

When police searched his home they found cash, drugs and weapons including a submachine gun. He pleaded guilty to five charges at the High Court in Edinburgh and was jailed for 13 years.

And staff at Hamilton & Inches in George Street cowered as thugs wielding axes, machetes and a sledgehammer smashed glass cabinets to steal jewellery and watches.

The £1.3 million jewel store heist saw getaway driver Michael Hood, from Royston Main, jailed for eight years.

In 2013 Elliot Jorgensen, 25, and Anthony Boyd, 25, stole £726,866 of watches and diamonds from the Rox store on George Street.

Mandy Haeburn-Little, director of the SBRC, described Gold Watch as “an excellent model of practice”, adding: “It’s a great example of local businesses working together to ensure the city centre remains a safe place to visit, work and shop.”

The jewellers already signed up to the scheme are Alistir Wood Tait, Goodwin Antiques, Daniel Henderson and Palenque all on Rose Street, Hamilton & Inches and Rox on George Street, and Laing the Jewellers and MacIntyres of Edinburgh on Frederick Street.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com