Gang members who robbed a Leeds jeweller at gunpoint have finally been brought to justice, seven years after stealing more £374,000 worth of high end watches and jewellery, says the Yorkshire Post.
The last member of the Estonian gang was jailed yesterday for a total of nine years, while eight others have already been jailed for a total of 82 years in connection with the armed robbery that took place at Berry’s jewellers in August 2005.
The gang is also thought to have carried out robberies in countries across Europe, including Finland, Italy, Sweden and Monte Carlo.
Janno Heinola, 33, was jailed yesterday, bringing an end to a long-term police operation to bring the criminals to justice.
Judge Peter Collier QC said that West Yorkshire police had been in “dogged pursuit” of the gang, who stole timepieces by Rolex and Patek Philippe before shipping them out to other parts of Europe.
Heinola and two other men targeted Berry’s on Albion Street on August 6, 2005, threatening seven members of staff and a young family.
One of the men pointed a gun as a total £92,750 worth of Rolex and Cartier watches were stolen.
Heinola was caught after his DNA was found on a cigarette butt found near to where he had been sitting moments before the robbery.
In February, Heinola was extradited by West Yorkshire detectives from Dusseldorf after completing a jail term for a robbery in Germany.
He pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent, while other gang members pleaded guilty to 11 other robberies across Britain, with raids taking place at high-end jewellers in Manchester, Newcastle, Wolverhampton and Chester.
In a second raid at Berry’s in 2007 members of the gang escaped with items worth more £374,000. In total the gang are thought to have netted in excess of £2 million from the 11 UK raids.
West Yorkshire police officers believe the haul, mainly comprising of high-end watches by Rolex and Patek Philippe, was shipped out of the country separately on cargo ships before being sold in Eastern Europe or Russia.
Heinola was caught when West Yorkshire officers, working alongside the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), were able to link DNA recovered from the scene of a Leeds robbery with an Estonian DNA database.
Detective Inspector Lloyd Batley said: “This marks the end of a number of years hard work by detectives, who have traced eight suspects across Europe in order to bring them to justice in Leeds.”