Record-Breaking Jewel Heist, Captured on Camera

In biggest gem heist in U.K. history, a witness tapes getaway on cell phone.

August 12, 2009, 6:41 AM

LONDON, August 12, 2009 — -- It's the biggest gem heist in British history, and it was all captured on cell phone video.

Scotland Yard said two men walked into an exclusive jewelry store in London's posh Mayfair district and walked out with $65 million in stolen jewels.

The robbery was so fast and so successful, some have likened it to a movie crossed with a military maneuver.

At 4:40 p.m. on Aug. 6, two robbers dressed in suits entered Graff Diamonds' flagship store -- which is known for its rich and famous clientele Two minutes later, they were out the door, carrying $65 million in jewelry, and with a blond hostage in tow.

They fired a gunshot to clear the street, and by the time the man recording the getaway on his cell phone looked up, they were gone, taking the jewels after releasing the hostage.

Police say the loot included 43 pieces of jewelry, comprising earrings, watches, rings and a necklace made of 272 diamonds.

The heist was so brazenpolice say the men arrived at the store in a London taxi and made an incredible getaway, changing cars three times over a distance measuring less than half a mile. They crashed once, handed a bag of jewels to an accomplice on a motorcycle and gave police the slip, despite being right in the center of London.

Police believe that a total of four men took part in the operation. The only thing they've recovered so far is one of the getaway cars.

Graff Diamonds Robbed Twice Before

Graff Diamonds has already been targeted twice before by thieves. In a 2003 robbery at the same store, police say a Kosovan Serb jewel thief, Nebojsa Denic, who belonged to the notorious Pink Panthers group of thieves, stole $37.8 million worth of jewels. Denic was arrested,convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

Four years later, two robbers fled Graff's Sloane Street store in central London, stealing $16.4 million in gems.

This latest heist has made it into the record books in Britain, and police are now hunting the four men believed to be responsible.

The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story.

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