$50,000 jewel heist

PROFESSIONAL thieves escaped with about $50,000 worth of jewellery after slashing the tyres of police vehicles to prevent being pursued in a Gatton heist early yesterday.

Gatton Jewellers owner Bill Beckman said the offenders probably used a hammer to smash their way into his business at 3.43am.

In just seven minutes, the robbers broke into two glass cabinets and stole 109 gold chains and up to 40 gold gem-set rings while the alarm was sounding.

They also carted away a cabinet, measuring one metre high, which was filled with silver and gold charms.

“They would have been in here and cased the place out as they knew which cabinets had the most expensive rings in them,” Mr Beckman said.

Mr Beckman said the security company immediately contacted him and police after the alarm was activated.

He arrived at 3.54am, just four minutes after the thieves left, but waited there for more than two hours for police.

Before breaking into the jewellery store, the robbers had used a knife to slash 12 tyres on four police vehicles parked at the Gatton Police Station.

They slashed seven tyres between two marked patrol cars, two tyres of an unmarked CIB car, and three tyres of the paddy-wagon to ensure an easy getaway.

However, this was unnecessary as Mr Beckman said Gatton Police did not know about the robbery until he called them at 6.05am.

The security company called Gatton Police when the alarm started sounding, but the call was diverted through to the Toowoomba Police Communications Centre as the Gatton Station is not manned 24 hours a day

Mr Beckman said the message did not get through to Gatton Police which highlighted the need for 24-hour policing.

Acting Detective Inspector Paul Hart acknowledged there was a delay and the issue was being “looked at”.

Forensic officers found blood at the scene.

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