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Flying Squad member in serious condition after raid on luxury watch store foiled

Published 03/08/2016

Police intercepting armed robbers in Piccadilly, London, before they attempted to rob a jewellers (@Mick7777Francis/Twitter/PA)
Police intercepting armed robbers in Piccadilly, London, before they attempted to rob a jewellers (@Mick7777Francis/Twitter/PA)

A member of the police Flying Squad remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital after being run down when officers thwarted a smash-and-grab robbery at a luxury watch store in London's West End.

Three other officers were also hurt during the daylight raid - two suffered minor injuries and one needed hospital treatment for a cut, the Metropolitan Police said.

Four men remain in custody on suspicion of robbery after the gang targeted the Chronext shop in Piccadilly at 11.25am on Wednesday. An axe, knives and the stolen jewellery were all recovered at the scene.

Chronext chief executive Philipp Man, 25, who flew in from Zurich when he heard about the attack, said the raid resulted in around £500,000 worth of damage.

He told the Press Association: "It's quite scary knowing you will be robbed in advance.

"We have ramped up all security in the past month, particularly in Germany and Switzerland.

"I think we were targeted because we have a lot of stock and watches are quite easy to sell. But if you are a robber this is not the smartest place to target.

"We are in Mayfair, one of the most frequented streets in London. It's meant to be one of the safest areas.

"You could see that these were not professionals. A machete is pretty medieval."

He added: "We have two Israelis and a Colombian on staff so they are accustomed to extraordinary situations."

Speaking about police trying to get into the shop before the raid, he said: "We deal with a lot of fraud, so we actually had to check the police were real."

He added: "We were planning on refurbishing the shop anyway."

The men smashed the windows of the store and tried to make off on mopeds with valuable watches, b ut were stopped in their tracks when Scotland Yard's anti-robbery team moved in after receiving a tip-off, the Met said.

Officers fired their Tasers a number of times as the gang tried to flee .

Witnesses posted pictures online of two of the suspects pinned to the floor by police as one of the bikes lay on its side nearby. One shot showed debris including what appeared to be a machete.

Detective Superintendent Craig Turner said: "Our officers are absolutely committed to keeping London safe and target the criminals who pose a danger to Londoners and our city businesses day in, day out.

"They know that this work carries with it very real risks and dangers but take this in their stride as part of serving the public.

"However, (these) events highlight how the reckless behaviour of those determined to evade justice, heedless of the consequences, can have a real impact on all those involved."

Eduard Chirila, 38, a security guard working at the time, said he was informed by the police beforehand to "take care of the staff" and put them in the back room.

Describing the raid, he said: "Two robbers got into the shop, they were wearing helmets.

"One smashed the cabinet but as soon as he did, he saw police coming out and his action changed and they both tried to get away."

Mr Man confirmed all stock is insured, and that no customer stock was taken.

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