Shoppers dived clear as armed jewel robbers made a dangerous getaway through a crowded Doncaster Market yesterday.
The thieves had just snatched thousands of pounds’ worth of gold jewellery from Gary French’s shop on Clock Corner. It is believed at least three masked men were in an old V-reg silver Mercedes saloon which forced its way along Baxter Gate, into the Market Place, on to High Fisher Gate and, according to eyewitnesses, the wrong way down the Church Way dual carriageway to get across St George’s Bridge.
Greengrocer Peter Clarkson said: “I heard this car pip, pipping and could see people were jumping out the way. Then it got to the corner and was held up by some vans.
“There were so many people about, and I think there were four in the car, all with black stockings on their heads.
“It went past the Premier Inn and then turned on to Church Way, going the wrong way, then I lost sight of it.”
Doncaster police believe many Baxtergate and market shoppers took video footage or pictures of the gang driving away and have appealed to them to come forward.
Bystander Jeanette Sugden, who works in a nearby shop, was on a break when she saw the daring daylight raid take place around 9.45am.
“A silver Mercedes with two men in the front and one in the back, all wearing hoodies so I couldn’t see their faces, pulled up and the two men got out of the front,” Jeanette said.
“They had long black things in their hands - they could have been guns or swords, I couldn’t tell.
“They weren’t in the shop long at all, just two or three minutes.”
Staff at French’s refused to comment but two of their display windows had been almost emptied of jewellery.
Shirley Ottaway, who works at Dawson travel agents, said: “The first we knew was a woman walked in and shut the door - she was shaking. She said there were men with hoodies and a sword and a gun. She was very shocked.”
The Mercedes, which has not been reported stolen, was later found on fire on Conyers Road, Bentley.
Police have recovered a machete believed to have been used in connection with the robbery, and it is being examined.
The missing jewellery was taken in maroon coloured boxes marked ‘G French’ with the shop’s phone number.
Detectives are appealing for people to look out for the jewellery boxes, and asked to be informed of any footage of the Mercedes which the public may hold.