Accrington businessman's fury at losing £400k of jewellery in raid

Blackburn Citizen: Irfan Mohammed with the hole created in the safe by the raiders Irfan Mohammed with the hole created in the safe by the raiders

A BUSINESSMAN has told of his desperation after losing £400,000 of jewellery in a raid.

Irfan Mohammed said he was unhappy with progress being made by police after his business Sona Mohal jewellers, in Blackburn Road, Accrington, was hit.

He revealed he had no insurance which means he is now at risk of losing the business and possibly even his home.

During the raid the thieves smashed their way through a plasterboard wall to get to a safe full of items which was kept in a locked room.

Then using an angle grinder and jack hammers they created a large hole in the back of the old five foot by five foot post office safe.

Police believe the thieves must have spent up to five hours in the shop cutting through the safe’s numerous layers of metal and concrete.

The raiders had forced their way into the building from the backyard before cutting all the burglar alarm wires and removing display cases.

The 39-year-old said: “The shop is absolutely wrecked. My entire livelihood has gone.

“I don’t have insurance because nowadays insurance companies demand jewellers have three members of staff on site at any one time.

“I run a small family business and to fulfill this requirement I would have to take on more full time staff and I just can’t afford to do that.

“I hadn’t been taking risks. Every night at closing time all the jewellery would be loaded into my safe.

“I honestly thought what could be safer than a safe?

“Everyone I know, has pretty much been burgled recently and I thought I was doing the right thing storing not only my stock but my late mother and father’s jewellery along with my sister’s jewellery. Now the whole lot has gone and the police don’t seem to care.”

Mr Mohammed said the safe had been emptied and it had contained:

  • 35 gold bangles
  • 30 gold jewellery sets made up of necklaces and bangles
  • 30 gold necklaces
  • 60 pairs of gold earrings
  • 200 gold rings
  • 200 gold chains
  • 60 pairs of stud earrings
  • priceless family heirlooms such as a handmade gold choker

Police were alerted to the burglary last month after a nearby shop keeper noticed three white men running from the property carrying a holdall before climbing into a silver Mercedes.

Mr Mohammed said officers attended the shop but after finding the backyard in a mess and the back door open a jar, they decided not to enter the property believing it had not been raided.

It was only when a relative of Mr Mohammed’s arrived to open shop that they discovered the extent of the burglary.

Mr Mohammed, who lives in Bradford, had been running the shop with the help of his family for more than 13 years.

He said: “We feel really let down by the police and the lack of progress.

“I am now at risk of losing my business and even my home.

“I am just counting my lucky stars no one was inside the shop when the burglary took place as you don’t know what could have happened.

“I am desperate to find out information about the burglary before all the jewellery is melted down and never seen again.

“If anyone knows anything I urge them to contact police.”

A police spokesman said officers were following many lines of inquiry as part of a complex investigation.

He said: “Officers attended the back of the premises and it did not look as though a break-in had occurred however once the staff arrived and entered the premises it was clear that the shop had not only been damaged but a large number of items had been stolen.

“Crime scene investigators have carried out an examination of the scene in a bid to extract forensic evidence. We would appeal to anyone who has information about this offence to come forward and contact the police.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Accrington CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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