Jeweller’s robbed by hammer-wielding thug

A JEWELLER in West Hampstead has described the terrifying moments when a hammer-wielding thug ran into his shop and began smashing open a glass cabinet

Ed Thomas

A JEWELLER in West Hampstead has described the terrifying moments when a hammer-wielding thug ran into his shop and began smashing open a glass cabinet.

Sanjay Pattni was serving a female customer when the door opened and a gang of three youths rushed in.

He managed to grapple two of them back outside and locked the door behind him. But inside, his staff and the customer were left trapped with the third raider who had by now started smashing open the glass to get at jewellery.

"It was very scary. It was the first time I've been targeted by robbers and it all happened so fast," said Mr Pattni, who has run the Joule shop on West End Lane for four years.

"When they came through the door I rushed up and managed to push two of them back outside. They were all screaming and shouting.

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"The one who did manage to get into the shop must have been so focused on the job that he didn't realise he was alone inside.

"He just carried on smashing open a cabinet with a hammer and picking up whatever he could.

"My three staff members and the customer were petrified. When he turned around he must have panicked at seeing he was trapped inside. He was like a wild dog trying to get out. He was dropping the jewellery and when he did manage to escape all three of them ran to a car parked on Iverson Road and sped off.

"Everyone has been left so shaken by this. The customer - a young woman - was in a complete state."

Rings worth hundreds of pounds were stolen, although the store managed to recover much of what was taken.

But aside from the financial cost, customers and staff are still reeling from the harrowing ordeal on April 15 at 4pm.

While the Ham&High helped scour CCTV of the incident, one female store worker who was not present during the raid recognised the hammer man as someone suspicious from the day before.

"He had been in the shop saying it was his mother's birthday," she said. "When I asked him what date was her birthday, he seemed surprised and said 'Um, today.'

"I asked him what he was looking for and he just said 'A ring like that' and pointed to something he hadn't even been looking at. It was obviously just any old thing near him.

"I asked him what size, but then he made his excuses and left. It's definitely the same guy."

The hammer thief was caught on seven separate cameras inside Joule and also left a blood sample on the cabinet he smashed open. The store is hopeful police can catch the trio and make the area safe again.

"It is important if anyone knows these men that they report it to the police, otherwise they will target other people," said Mr Pattni.

"It is our duty to try to put them behind bars. I don't want any other people suffering what we went through."

The youth with the hammer was black and had a wispy moustache. He wore a long-sleeved white shirt and jeans and concealed his weapon in a Selfridges bag.

His accomplices, who were forced outside, were both hooded. They made off in a white Hyundai towards Kilburn before staff flagged down a passing police van.

Police were unwilling to release the CCTV images but hope witnesses will come forward. Call the Met's Flying Squad on 020-8358 1751 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.