Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 07:53 UK

Jewellery gang became 'too cocky'

A gang of prolific armed robbers who allegedly stole jewellery worth 1.5m were caught because they became "too cocky", a court has been told.

Prosecutors allege the gang wore fake beards and flat caps to raid jewellery shops across the South and Midlands.

The court heard they were caught after trying to rob a shop in Winchester.

Elliot Burton, 38, of South Acre Avenue, Birmingham, and Lee Nash, 25, of Newlyn Road, Birmingham, deny conspiracy to rob jewellery shops.

Nash also denied a specific charge of robbery at Jeremy France Jewellers in Winchester on 8 November, 2005, and using an imitation firearm in the raid.

Unfortunately for the gang they were unlucky twice
Charles Gabb, prosecuting

Simon Waller, 28, of Outwood Drive, Birmingham, has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced at the end of the trial.

It is alleged that in the gang's most successful heist they stole 87 luxury watches, worth about 500,000, from Rudell The Jewellers, in High Street, Harborne, Birmingham, in May 2006.

Birmingham Crown Court was told the gang attempted to rob Jeremy France Jewellers in Winchester's High Street in December 2006 after getting away with a "considerable booty" in a raid the previous year.

Prosecutor Charles Gabb told the jury: "Unfortunately for the gang they were unlucky twice."

The court heard when the second raid was attempted the shop owners had installed a smoke machine and a hi-tech SmartWater system, which coated the raiders in a unique combination of chemicals as they fled.

They are alleged to have carried out nine raids in all.

The trial continues.

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