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Audacious robbery at Westfield

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Guy Smith | 16:38 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

It was an audacious move. And clearly well-organised. Early this morning a gang of up to 10 masked thieves broke into Europe's largest urban shopping centre.

Westfield in White City boasts more than 265 designer and High Street shops. The targets were the jewellers Tiffany & Co and diamond specialists De Beers.

It's believed the gang, wearing balaclavas, were armed with sledgehammers. They forced the firedoor on the ground floor and made their way to the two shops in The Village.

They then smashed through the front doors. Apparently it took just minutes to steal jewellery valued at many thousands of pounds.

We don't know yet exactly how much or what was stolen but I saw empty display units and shelves when I popped down there. Security staff were just cordoning off the area.

I was told the alarms alerted police and they were on the scene as the gang were getting into at least three get-away cars. There was a high-speed pursuit but the robbers escaped.

This raid was the first burglary of its kind since Westfield opened in Octbober 2008. Thankfully, no one was injured. Police are looking at CCTV footage and have questioned witnesses.

This was the statement released today by the CEO of De Beers François Delage. He notes: "This is an unfortunate incident, but is yet another reminder of the timeless allure of diamonds." Well, that's a positive spin.

Tiffany & Co just confirmed the break-in and they were currently closed for business.

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