Masked men armed with sledgehammers smashed their way into a city centre jewellers’ shop and stole £140,000 worth of Rolex watches in a terrifying daylight raid.
One female customer, along with six members of staff, were ordered to lie on the floor as the trio of thugs shattered a glass display cabinet at HL Brown Jewellers in Barker’s Pool, Sheffield, at 11am yesterday.
The men, thought to have been armed with at least one sledgehammer and a crowbar, also attempted to break into two other displays but were unable to get through the glass. In total they made off with 17 Rolex watches, valued collectively at between £130,000 and £140,000.
The three ran off with their haul down Leopold Street, past shocked shoppers and passers-by.
Store manager John Molyneux, who has worked at the shop for 25 years, told The Star he had never seen anything ‘as violent’ in his 40 years in the jewellery trade.
“It was terrifying,” he said.
“We were attacked by three masked men. They came in and told us all to get to the back and then we had to get onto the floor.
“They had at least one sledgehammer and we think there was a crowbar.
“They went about attacking the display stands and the windows. They left on foot and ran off at high speed up the side of Leopold Street.”
James Frampton, managing director of the company, said he had been upstairs when the raid took place and had not heard anything.
He said staff had been left ‘shaken’ by the raid, and said his employees described the sound of the displays being attacked as ‘like a gun going off’.
Police are appealing for information about the raid - and Mr Molyneux said he hoped anyone who knows something will come forward.
In a direct appeal, he said: “Please, let the police have any information you might have, especially if you are offered a Rolex watch without the box or papers.”
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “Police are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or who has been approached by anyone selling expensive watches, to contact South Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 300 of September 23.
“Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”