A FORMER detective who specialised in taking down jewel thieves believes the £1m Rox heist gang will have fenced their haul abroad to “bling”- loving gangsters.
Retired chief inspector Barry Harper, who now works for a firm selling security equipment to jewellers, said that Central America, Eastern Europe and Africa were probable destinations for the massive haul.
Mr Harper added that the two robbers who held up the jewellers on Tuesday with a gun and an axe could expect a £300,000 pay day for their terrifying antics.
But a “Fagan-type” fence – likely a crooked jeweller – would realise the biggest profit, “pre-ordering” the desired goods, then selling them for around £800,000 to foreign drug dealers or organised criminals who “like bling”.
Mr Harper, 54, said: “This is top-end of the market so I would expect the stolen jewels to go abroad. The thieves had probably been briefed beforehand by a Fagan-type character who may be involved in the jewellery trade. They almost certainly had buyers in mind when this ‘order’ was put out.
“These kind of items aren’t that difficult to get rid of. I expect they might go to Central America, Africa or Eastern Europe to drug dealers and other criminals who like to flaunt expensive jewellery.”
Mr Harper investigated a number of jewellery store robberies during his 32-year police career, including a raid at a Nottingham outlet ten years ago which saw the owner’s wife killed. He joined security firm Protect Global 18 months ago. The firm specialises in fitting jewellery stores with anti-theft technology including a panic button which causes shops to fill with smoke to disorientate would-be robbers.
No such device appears to have been triggered during the Rox “hit” – thought to be the biggest armed robbery in Scottish criminal history.
At around 5.15pm on Tuesday, the two robbers confronted two terrified women shop assistants and forced them to open a window display. One of the men smashed cabinets with the axe while the other brandished a handgun before escaping with their haul on a black Honda 650 motorbike.
The motorbike was found abandoned in Northumberland Street North West Lane along with the axe, and police today made a fresh appeal for witnesses to the getaway.
Another police expert said that he believed the robbery “crew” were unlikely to come from the Scottish criminal fraternity, but had been brought in by a gangster syndicate from further afield. Lothian and Borders Police have launched a UK-wide hunt for the robbers, contacting other forces for information on similar raids or possible suspects.