Thieves used 'large concrete block' to smash through Leeds shopping centre store and take £150,000 of jewellery

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A group of robbers smashed a large concrete block though a Leeds shopping centre before stealing £150,000 of jewellery including 15 Rolex watches.

Watchfinder in Victoria Quarter, Leeds city centre, was broken into at 6.45pm on Wednesday - the second break-in in three months.

Victoria Quarter

Victoria Quarter

Reports from members of the public suggest the men were armed, but a spokesman for Watchfinder said that it 'could not be verified' whether the men did have firearms.

LISTED: Have you been offered one of these watches? Every timepiece stolen in raid on Watchfinder

The men then made off in the direction of East Gate in a high-powered blue Audi.

A spokesman for the store said: "The number of participants in the robbery cannot yet be clarified, but it is believed the thieves carried a large concrete block through the arcade before using it to smash their way into the store. Reports suggesting the thieves were armed cannot be verified.

"At the time of the raid, the store was preparing to close and the staff that were inside the building moved to a safe room within the store and activated alarms and a fog bandit as well as notifying the police as soon as the thieves entered the building. Nobody was injured during the attack.

"In total, over £150,000 of watches were taken, 15 of which were Rolex. 
This is the second raid to have been committed at the Leeds store within 4 months, situated in the County Arcade, since opening in 2015.

Matt Bowling, Director of Watchfinder, said: "I’m saddened to suffer another break in at our Leeds store, we are working closely with the police to investigate this matter. While we suffered the loss of over £150,000 of stock, no staff were injured in the raid and I praise their swift actions to activate security systems and alert the police."

Matt continued: "There is absolutely no doubt that the watch industry needs to rethink the way we deal with stolen watches. We must make it much easier to check the history of a watch before buying it. If we can do that we will make it harder to sell stolen watches and that in turn should reduce the commercial appeal of this kind of violent and traumatising crime.

"We have published the stolen watch serial numbers and urge watch buyers to be vigilant when purchasing a watch on the used market."