Dawn raid nets jewel thief close to €500,000

GARDAÍ are searching for a jewel thief who would make the legendary Raffles proud, robbing a haul which is rumoured to be worth several hundred thousand euro.

The thief is believed to have spent more than two hours in a jeweller’s store in north Cork, selecting the most expensive and portable items he could find.

He struck just before 4am yesterday at Fitzpatrick’s Jewellers at Main Street, Charleville, forcing open a door at the side entrance of the shop, at Smith Street, to gain access.

He then proceeded to scour trays of jewellery for the best items. These included diamond rings, dress rings, gold rings and pendants.

The robbery was discovered at about 9.15am when the owners arrived to open the jewellery shop.

The interior had been ransacked and the owners have being trying to puttogether an inventory of stolen property for gardaí.

Superintendent Pat McCarthy, who is leading the investigation, said it was too early to give an accurate figure on what had been taken. However,he admitted the haul was “very substantial”.

Supt McCarthy would not comment on speculation up to €500,000 worth of jewellery had been stolen.

Garda forensic experts were combing the shop yesterday for clues to the thief’s identity.

Detectives were also examining footage from the shop’s in-store CCTVcameras. But as the man was wearing a balaclava and dark clothing the footage isunlikely to shed much light on the identity of the thief.

Gardaí know, however, he entered the shop at about 4am and left it sometimeafter 6am.

“He was certainly in there for a considerable period of time.

“He seemed to have picked out the best of stuff,” said Supt McCarthy.

“He may have had anaccomplice or accomplices waiting outside in a car, or keeping watch.

He said gardaí wanted to hear from anybody who was in these areas as early as 3am in case the thief was hanging around before the break-in.

An incident room has been set up at Charleville Garda Station on 063 81222 or people can contact Mallow gardaí at 022-21105.

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