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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Two arrested over biggest gem robbery: police

LONDON (AFP) - - London police have arrested two men in connection with what is thought to be the country's biggest jewellery heist, a spokesman said.

Two gun-toting and smartly dressed men walked into an exclusive Graff store in central London and stole 43 rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches with a retail value of 40 million pounds.

The Metropolitan Police said the pair were arrested Wednesday but would not issue any more details for "operational reasons" -- including whether they were the same two captured on video pulling off the raid earlier this month.

A record reward of up to one million pounds has been offered to find those behind the robbery in broad daylight on London's swanky New Bond Street.

A 50-year-old man has already been arrested over the robbery, which police have said was well organised and could have involved accomplices.

The two men, dressed in grey suits and white shirts and speaking with London accents, arrived in a black taxi and threatened staff with handguns.

As they left, they dragged a female staff member with them and fired a warning shot outside. They left her behind as they raced off in a blue BMW.

They abandoned their car nearby, firing another shot at the ground. No one was hurt.

Graff, which is known for its diamonds and caters to celebrities, was also targeted in 2003 in what until now was reportedly Britain's previous most expensive jewellery robbery, worth 23 million pounds.

Stars spotted wearing Graff's jewels include Paris Hilton, Kylie Minogue, Naomi Campbell, Oprah Winfrey and Victoria Beckham.

The latest heist is also thought to be the second biggest robbery in Britain, after a 53-million-pound raid on a Securitas depot in Kent in 2006, police said. A gang tied up staff and stole cash.

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