DETECTIVES today said that a glove left behind by an armed robber who targeted a George Street jewellers was a “crucial error” which led to his capture.
Elliot Jorgensen and Anthony Boyd were involved in the daring raid at the Rox store, which saw £730,000 in jewels and watches stolen in January.
Detectives believe the robbers’ “very professional job” may have deteriorated during the getaway after they were surprised by the volume of witnesses outside the shop and the police’s speedy response.
Jorgensen later dropped a glove worn during the heist, with forensic specialists able to recover his DNA from it.
His DNA profile was listed on the national criminal database as the 25-year-old had previously been convicted of another robbery in 2007.
Officers swooped on Jorgensen in the Greater Manchester area eight days after the raid, and Boyd, 26, who had a central role in its “organisation”, was later detained.
Staff at Rox were threatened with a pistol and an axe by two men during the heist, with one female worker dragged across the store at gunpoint.
Jorgensen and Boyd pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and robbery at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday when a judge warned them to expect a lengthy prison sentence.
Detective Inspector Bobby Deas, who led the investigation, said the recovery of the glove was a key breakthrough in bringing the men to justice after the otherwise well-planned raid.
He said: “It was a very professional job. The value of the jewellery stolen alone shows that it was professional.
“We can only assume that leaving behind the item of clothing was a mistake. Obviously they would not plan to leave behind any forensic evidence.
“It may have been due to the response from the public, as there was quite a number of people outside the store when they came out, and the police response which saw officers on the scene very quickly. Matters may have been forced on them and they made a crucial error.”
The robbery – which lasted less than 90 seconds – saw a large haul of expensive items stolen, including diamonds and watches.
Jorgensen, of Salford, took part in the heist itself along with another man.
Aldair Warmington, 26, from Manchester, was alleged to have been involved in the raid, but his not guilty pleas were accepted by prosecutors yesterday.
The two robbers fled from George Street on a motorbike, which was later found abandoned in Northumberland Street North West Lane along with the axe, two helmets and the glove.
But the jewellery stolen from Rox has not been recovered and remains the subject of an ongoing investigation by police.
Det Insp Deas said: “The case isn’t closed. We’re satisfied with this result in court, but inquiries continue to recover the missing property. We’re still appealing to anyone who may have information on its whereabouts to come forward.
“Our message to anyone who believes Edinburgh may be a soft target for these kind of offences has been clearly shown that this is not the case. That’s not a challenge, just a statement that the full resources of Police Scotland will be brought to bear against them.”
Prosecutor Andrew Brown QC told the court yesterday how the robbery was “carefully planned” and “efficiently executed”.
He explained how Jorgensen and Boyd, of Manchester, played “different, but vital” roles in the crime.
Mr Brown said “reconnaissance” was carried out on the Rox store while Boyd later asked another man to transport a stolen Honda motorbike from Manchester to Edinburgh on the day of the robbery.
The address given for the drop-off was the street in the Capital where Boyd’s mother lived.
At around 5.15pm on January 15, two masked men stormed into the shop armed with an axe and a handgun.
The court heard that sales assistant Samera Afzal, 24, and sales manager Ho Suet So “immediately froze with fear”.
Jorgensen brandished the gun at the women and yelled “don’t move”, while his accomplice started smashing glass cabinets with the axe.
The accomplice quickly filled a rucksack with items including designer watches made by Hubler, Girard Perregaux and Corum.
Jorgensen grabbed a terrified Ms Afzal to go with him to another part of the store.
CCTV footage played in court showed her being pushed around and her high-heel shoes coming off during the assault.
Mr Brown told the court: “The accused then placed the gun into her left side and pulled her forcefully by the arm into an area where cabinets containing the most expensive pieces of jewellery were displayed.”
Jorgensen then snatched items including a £100,000 diamond collar and another jewel-encrusted bracelet.
Rox manager Katy Lawrence, who was in her office when the men stormed in, heard the commotion and pressed a panic alarm.
Jorgensen and the other man raced out into George Street, shouting at passers-by “get back” and “don’t come f****** near”.
Jorgensen also shouted at a watching taxi driver: “You shut your f****** mouth. You’ve never seen f****** anything.”
The duo then fled on the Honda motorbike which was found dumped at a car park with its key still in the ignition.
After Jorgensen’s DNA was recovered and he was detained on January 23, police traced CCTV footage of him being handed a large quantity of cash by three men at the San Carlo restaurant in Manchester before his arrest.
Boyd, who worked as an engineer, was charged in March.
Judge Lord Matthews adjourned the case until next month, but said lengthy jail terms were “obvious” when Jorgensen and Boyd return to the dock.
Det Insp Deas said the pistol used in the Rox robbery was never recovered, while the raid was not being linked to other crimes.
He said: “It was a very challenging inquiry and we were helped by witnesses, including staff at the shop, who provided vital evidence for this case.
“The staff at Rox were left extremely distressed by this incident, which was horrendous for them, but they acted professionally throughout and were able to provide us with detailed information.
“We received excellent support and help from other police forces, particularly Greater Manchester Police, from the outset.
“Edinburgh is still a relatively safe city. Events of this gravity are very rare.”
Worker not fit to return
A SALES assistant at the Rox store, who had a gun held against her by an armed robber during the raid, has been unable to return to work following her ordeal.
Samera Afzal, 24, was left terrified after being threatened at gunpoint by Elliot Jorgensen as he held up the store with an accomplice. The High Court in Glasgow heard yesterday that staff working at the time have been “serious affected” as a result, and that Ms Afzal had been unfit to come back to work.
A Rox spokeswoman said: “We are pleased with the outcome of yesterday’s hearing, and would like to thank the police for their support throughout the case.”
Following the robbery, Rox spent £50,000 on security at the George Street store, employing a full-time guard and starting a locked door policy where the guard must allow shoppers inside.
THE GUILTY PARTIES
Organisational role, including having the stolen Honda motorbike used in the getaway brought to Edinburgh. Worked as an engineer.
Led the raid in the Rox store, holding sales assistant at gunpoint while grabbing diamonds and other jewels. Previous conviction for robbery.
Gone in 90 seconds
The heist took just 90 seconds but saw the pair escape with 77 items worth a total of £726,866. These included:
3 pairs of earrings