Watches worth £340k stolen from Hamilton & Inches

The Patek Philippe 5940J, stolen in the Hamilton & Inches heist, is worth �61,530. Picture: comp

The Patek Philippe 5940J, stolen in the Hamilton & Inches heist, is worth �61,530. Picture: comp

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EIGHT Swiss-made watches worth more than £340,000 were among the haul stolen by armed robbers in a £1.3 million heist at a George Street jeweller.

Detectives released an inventory of luxury goods taken during the raid at Hamilton & Inches, including the luxury watches made by Patek Philippe & Co, which ranged in price from £22,000 up to £68,000.

Police issued images of the stolen timepieces but fear they are likely to be smuggled abroad as they have unique serial numbers making them “untouchable” for authorised UK dealers.

Officers yesterday returned to key locations linked to the robbery – which took place at around 11.40am last Friday – in the hope of tracing potential witnesses.

The investigation team is still trying to trace a “dark coloured and large” car used by the thieves after they dumped the original getaway vehicle – a BMW – in Gloucester Lane.

Detective Inspector Carol Craig, who is leading the inquiry, said: “So far, the response and assistance from the public has been fantastic and we continue to progress a number of lines of inquiry.

“However, we have yet to receive that vital piece of information that will lead to tracing those responsible for this robbery and recovering the stolen jewellery.”

A large team of officers approached members of the public in the George Street and Gloucester Lane areas yesterday in a bid to find anyone who may have witnessed the raid, or getaway, and had not yet come forward.

Three balaclava-clad men threatened staff with knives and swords, and smashed open display cases at the jewellers. It is thought they travelled from Manchester and spent up to 48 hours in Scotland before the robbery.

They made their escape in a white BMW car, driven by a fourth man, which was seen to drive east along George Street, down Howe Street and along Heriot Row.

The gang sped the wrong way down a one-way street to reach the dark-coloured vehicle parked in Gloucester Lane, which is not covered by CCTV cameras.

A number of items found in the leased BMW are being tested for any traces of DNA.

Police are keen to trace the make and model of the second car and the route it used out of the Capital, and have made identifying its make and model a “vital” part of the investigation.

A £300,000 gold and diamond necklace and a collection of valuable rings were also among the items taken by the gang.

DI Craig said: “No reputable dealer would handle these items. The diamonds each have a unique number lasered into them and the watches also carry a serial number. They come with documents, which makes it highly likely they will be sold abroad.

“The assumption is that they will be shipped out of the country. I am assuming it must go abroad as you cannot do anything without the certificates.”

amcewen@edinburghnews.com