Stratford alleyway is raiders' escape route as they target jewellers
A FAMILY-RUN jewellery firm was targeted by two men armed with a sledgehammer and a pickaxe who attempted to smash their way into the premises last Monday morning (15th October).
The men, wearing balaclavas, tried to smash the front window at Christopher Poel jewellers in Meer Street at 11.30am, but they were unsuccessful and fled the scene empty handed.
Owner Chris Poel, who was in the shop at the time, said: “I had a split-second warning. I could see them running over and about to have the first swing at the window. I didn’t stop and look, I was running around to press the alarm button.
“It’s something you prepare for. Every time you open and close the shop, or let someone in, you’re always considering whether there’s going to be a robbery. That thought from ten years of being in this shop comes down to a split second when you realise that it’s happening now.”
The two men hammered at the window in an attempt to reach the watches on display, but soon realised the window was not going to break.
Hannah Poel, who also working at the time, added: “I’m in a bit of shock. They were wearing balaclavas and they were quick. They wait for times when the window display is put out because it’s removed each night.”
A police spokesperson said: “This is being treated as attempted burglary. The offenders fled the scene on foot along the alleyway at the side of the library before getting into a grey Hyundai i30 with no registration plates and driving up the Warwick Road.”
The route the men fled down, the alleyway between Shakespeare’s birthplace and Stratford library on Henley Street, has been used in previous robberies.
Chris said: “It’s probably the access to get in and out, and I think CCTV down there would be a benefit. I suppose more police presence is always good, but they’re underfunded and struggle. It’s difficult because the reality is if people are going to do an armed robbery, any level you go to is just looking to slow them down.”
This was the second time the shop has been targeted following a raid in 2016 where two men were charged with aggravated burglary. On that occasion members of the public threw chairs at the two men before they ran off.
Last December, five armed men robbed a jewellers on Henley Street.
Hannah said: “There’s a sense of déjà vu about this and unfortunately it happens in the industry.”
Enquiries are ongoing and anyone with information can call 101 quoting incident 115 of 18th October 2021. Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.