Gang accused of ‘£1m Smash-and-Grab raids’

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Southwark Crown Court

An Islington gang stole almost £1m worth of goods in a series of coordinated “smash and grab” motorbike raids, a court has heard.

The group is accused of committing 46 burglaries in a summer spree that targeted shops in Bond Street and Covent Garden, stealing high-end racing bikes, designer handbags, sunglasses, electronics, and jewellery.

Eyewitness accounts told of gang members brandishing battering rams, sledgehammers, and even an imitation handgun, while using stolen motorbikes and licence plates.

The young men would allegedly strike with two to a bike. The passenger would smash glass doors and shop fronts as the driver backed up to the incident, ready for a quick getaway.

Prosecutor Timothy Clark said: “The method, known as ‘smash and grab’, was dramatic but also amazingly efficient and quick.”

Investigating the raids, police found a haul of 17 watches, 16 bracelets, some earrings and some cufflinks in a single raid, all stashed inside a motorbike helmet alongside three Christian Dior bags.

Following a midnight raid on Bespoke Cycling, Farringdon Road, a witness recalled seeing two motorbikes fleeing with passengers carrying £5,000 racing bikes “across their shoulders.”

In a further incident at Eye Level Opticians, Notting Hill, the jury heard that £20,000 worth of designer sunglasses was stolen from the “securely locked” property.

The defendants denied the charges, and the case, which started at Southwark Crown Court last week, is expected to run for almost two months.

Mr Clark said: “In summary, this case relates to a gang who spent the summer of 2011 committing a number – in fact 46 – burglaries, attempted burglaries and robberies on commercial premises and stealing almost £1m of goods.”