A NOW notorious Wigan gang has been linked to the theft of £36,000 worth of jewellery from a shop safe.
Victim Ramesh Patel believes the 24-carat gold bracelets, rings, necklaces and bangles were snatched when a large group of people came into his Orrell off-licence as customers, and began buying a lot of stock.
To make matters worse for the shopkeeper the property, which also included personal documents, was not insured.
It is thought one or two of the group managed to slip into the back of the shop, conduct a quick search and steal property.
The theft was initially noticed. In fact an attempted burglary at Orrell Wines in Church Street that same night was at first suspected.
But as the would-be intruders never got past the inner door before being chased off by neighbours they were ruled out when the stock room was finally discovered to have been ransacked and the small safe containing the jewellery taken.
Mr Patel’s suspicions were further confirmed when he saw pictures of suspects caught on CCTV in a recent Wigan Evening Post who police want to question in relation to at least two incidents. In both a group of about eight men and women entered Bryn’s Bargain Booze and an undisclosed convenience store in Ormskirk Road, Newtown. While most distracted the shop keeper, accomplices slipped into unauthorized access areas to steal cigarettes, cash and jewellery.
Orrell Wines received its visit on Wednesday February 29 at about 11.45am.
Mr Patel said: “There were about 15 or 16 people all turned up at once and while a few stayed outside maybe up to a dozen came in. I thought they were buying everything in the shop. They were here for about 20 minutes and spent £200 on alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
“Nothing seemed to be amiss at the time but just after they left a neighbour of mine came in and said he had just seen them all get into a van and drive off and he thought they might be the people who had been featured in the newspaper.
“I thought nothing more about it. But then at about 12.30am the next morning someone broke through the front door of the shop. However they didn’t get through the middle door before several neighbours raised the alarm and said they saw three lads running away.
“It was the next morning that we discovered the stock room had been broken into and turned upside down and the jewellery stolen.
“On reflection we realised it must have been those people who came the day before.”