POLICE believe two high-value Wigan raids may be linked.
Releasing pictures of several suspects and an array of gems snatched in one of the crimes, detectives today appealed for information.
The first burglary happened just after 1.30pm on Sunday February 16 at Bargain Booze on Wigan Road, Bryn when a group of eight men and women walked in and started asking questions about products to members of staff.
While the workers were distracted, a number of the group broke into the back office and stole a large amount of cigarettes and a laptop before leaving.
The second burglary took place at around 12pm on Wednesday March 7 at a convenience store on Ormskirk Road, Newtown. Again eight people walked in and distracted an assistant while one member of the group walked through a door that led to an upstairs flat and searched rooms.
A large quantity of money and jewellery was taken before they walked downstairs and met with the remainder of the group in the shop before they all left and walked towards Norfolk Street.
Police have now released images of the men and women wanted in connection with the burglaries and are keen to hear from anyone who may recognise them.
DC Julian Hopkins from Wigan CID said: “We suspect these two crimes are linked as on both incidents, eight men and women of eastern European appearance were involved and the same tactics were used on each occasion.
“These are high value thefts by a team of well organised criminals.
“They give the appearance of being genuine shoppers yet are clearly well practised at creating confusion for the shop staff, enabling them to steal valuables discreetly.
“I would urge anyone who recognises the CCTV images and pictures of the jewellery to come forward and speak to please. I would also ask shop owners to remain vigilant and keep doors that lead into private areas secure at all times.”
Anyone with details should ring police on 0161 856 5307 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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