Three arrested after jewellery heist and high speed chase
A BUNGLED getaway by a jewellery heist gang ended with a high-speed crash on the A419 and a manhunt in the woodland behind the Great Western Hospital.
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of robbery after a heist at Deacon and Son on Marlborough High Street and two more may be on the run.
They made off at high speed and, after crashing on the A419, the men were caught on land close to the GWH following a chase involving armed police, dog units and the police helicopter.
They escaped from the scene and were spotted in a black Seat travelling at high speeds towards Swindon by on-duty police officers, who tailed the vehicle.
Soon after joining the A419 they crashed into a Royal Mail lorry and another car close to the hospital exit on the northbound carriage way.
Shop owner Richard Deacon, who also has a jewellers in Wood Street, Old Town, said: “The important thing is to remain positive. I think is important to remember that no one was hurt and the police have caught three of the perpetrators and two more are being searched for.
“Unfortunately these things happen far more frequently than they used to or should do. I am a believer that those who do good in life will prevail.
“I want to thank the members of the public who acted so quickly and have been fantastic since the incident.”
Following the collision, the men tried to escape by crossing the slip-road and heading off into woodland behind the hospital. By this point police had launched a full scale operation to capture the men and apprehended them soon afterwards. The first man was captured almost immediately upon leaving the stricken Seat.
A short time later a second was captured by a member of the dog team and the other was captured by a uniformed officer a short distance from the hospital grounds.
An amount of items stolen from the jewellery store were recovered from the scene.
“This was a successful example of teamwork within the police to apprehend three dangerous individuals,” said Detective Superintendent Nick John, Head of Crime for Wiltshire Police.
“At this stage the details of exactly what has happened are unclear so we are working to piece everything together.
“We would like to thank the members of public who have come forward to other information and would encourage anyone else who knows anything, no matter how small to get in contact.
“We have been given lots of information so it will take us time to go through it all and speak with every witness.”
At about 9.45am a group of masked men burst into the store, smashing display cases and grabbing jewellery and cash.
Police are not clear on the number of men who entered the shop but witnesses have said there could have been as many as five men.
No threats were made to staff but some witnesses have said the group were carrying either baseball bats or hammers.
Police do not believe any of men were carrying firearms when they entered the shop but they may have had implements to break the glass.
A police spokesman later added: “We cannot confirm whether any offenders are outstanding and we are analysing witness reports to determine the facts of the incident. Inquiries are still at an early stage.”
Hannah Warren, who works at clothes shop Fat Face, opposite the raided jewellery store, said: “We saw three lads run into the shop and they started smashing it up so we were on the phone to the cops straight away.
“About 40 seconds later a fourth went in. They were all in balaclavas or hats and bandanas. I don't know what they used to smash the place up, it looked like baseball bats or hammers.
“They saw that we’d clocked them so they left, it all happened so quickly, it was surreal.”
After leaving the shop the men made off in a Citroen Picasso, which was later found in flames close to the junction of John Coles Close and Free’s Avenue in Marlborough.
Police are not yet clear whether the car was set alight deliberately or crashed. The men then left Marlborough in the Seat and headed towards Swindon. Again, police said it was not clear whether the car was stolen or had been waiting for the men to arrive.
If anyone with information can contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.