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‘Professional’ bank job style heist at Islington off-licence

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 October 2011

Archant

»An off licence was raided after thieves broke into the property next door and bored through the wall to avoid detection in a bank job-style heist.

Up to five squeezed through a small hole about 35cm high and 40cm wide – evading the front door alarm – to gain entry into The Wine Inn in Essex Road, Islington, at 12.30am on Monday.

They grabbed around £7,000 of stock and made off with the shop’s safe – before returning at around 3.30am to raid the till for £300 in cash.

Scoped

Shop staff said they knew exactly what they wanted and where everything was – as if they had carefully scoped the place out – homing in on the most expensive bottles of champagne and whiskey in the pitch black.

Shopkeeper Shahzad Abdul, 30, said: “It was planned in a very professional way. It’s awful – it’s a lot of money.

“People should not take other people’s property like this, but they don’t give a damn.

“I hope they get caught and punished so they don’t do it to anybody else.”

The hole was smashed into a thin plasterboard wall and emerged in a small gap between the storeroom shelves.

Manager Qasim Jaffar, 23, who had closed the shop only half an hour earlier on Sunday, said: “There were about four or five of them with torches.

“They went straight for all the most expensive stuff like Cristal Champagne and Blue Label Whiskey. They knew exactly what they wanted.

“They took the safe too – but unfortunately for them there wasn’t anything in it.

“I came in the morning and everything was smashed up. I’ve been here four years and never had any problems.”

Forensics teams were scouring for evidence on Tuesday and found footprints, Mr Jaffar said.

The former video rental store next door has been empty for around a year. It was closed with electric shutters, which the burglars managed to open.

Laurence Brown, director of Where Next estate agents in Essex Road, which rents the shop and found a new tenant just this week, said: “I just could not believe it.

“You expect this sort of thing to happen with a bank – not an off licence.

“You don’t expect them to start going through walls to get in. I just feel sorry for them.”

A spokeswoman for Islington Police said: “It is believed that the suspects gained entry by smashing through the wall of vacant premises next door and stole cash and stock including cigarettes and alcohol worth approximately £7,000.”

n Anyone with information should contact Detective Constable Catriona Ward in the Burglary Squad on 020 7421 0220 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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