At least one member of the gang who carried out Britain’s biggest diamond robbery has been identified by detectives after a successful DNA match was made.
The biggest breakthrough since the $65 million heist at Graff Diamonds 12 days ago has led Flying Squad officers to believe that they are closing in on the group.
DNA tests have been conducted on material taken from a blue BMW that the men used for their getaway and later abandoned. Police have also seized equipment used by two unwitting make-up artists to change the appearance of two members of the gang to make them look older.
In the past few days the results have started to come back with encouraging news for officers who had faced a wall of silence from underworld contacts.
In a further development, detectives believe that they have found another of the three cars used by the gang to escape — a burnt-out VW Sharan. This could yield vital clues as the gang may have thought that any evidence would be destroyed in the fire.
Despite the offer of a $1.6 million reward, the Flying Squad has received very little information from the underworld and was working on the theory that members of the group who carried out the raid were not known to police.
They were amazed at the lack of response to the reward and felt that the two men could be recognized in the clear closed-circuit television footage of them entering the store. Two men with London accents, wearing small amounts of liquid latex, applied by a make-up artist who also altered their hair and skin tone to make them look older, walked in and forced staff to the floor at gunpoint.
A female member of staff in the shop in New Bond Street, London, was forced to put 43 items of jewelry, encrusted with 1,500 diamonds, from a display cabinet into a holdall.
As the men left the shop, briefly taking the female employee hostage, they fired at a security guard before getting into the BMW, passing a package to a motorcyclist before crashing into a taxi.