Times are tough and everyone's making cutbacks.
Jewel gang foiled as shoppers take getaway car keys
Members of the public quickly realised the stolen blue Peugeot outside the shop was the robbers' getaway car, so one man simply turned off the engine and removed the keys.
By Graham Tibbetts
Last Updated: 12:04AM BST 06 Aug 2008
Robbers who stole diamonds valued at £217,000 from a jeweller's shop were foiled by shoppers who removed the keys from their getaway car.
When the three men, clad in balaclavas and armed with sledgehammers, emerged from the shop, one shouted: "Someone's nicked the keys to our ride – run for it!"
With their escape plans undermined, Jamie Evans, 34, Aaron Stilwell, 26, and Stephen Lidell, 23, were caught by police.
They were jailed after admitting the robbery in Lewes, East Sussex.
Brighton Crown Court was told on Monday that the robbers used hammers to smash through the glass front door of the family business.
Alan Gardner, prosecuting, said: "Once inside, the robbers forced staff and customers – including a couple in their 70s – into the back of the shop while they smashed open display cases and stuffed diamonds and jewellery into their bags."
The robbery, on May 8 in Cliffe High Street in Lewes, attracted a crowd outside the shop of WE Clark and Son.
Mr Gardner said: "Members of the public quickly realised the stolen blue Peugeot outside the shop, which had its engine running, was the robbers' getaway car, so one man simply turned off the engine and removed the keys.
"Other passers-by grabbed traffic cones and road signs and piled them around the car to prevent any escape, in case the men had a spare set of keys."
The gang fled to a second car nearly half a mile away on the outskirts of the town centre. However, the delay enabled the police to send six cars in pursuit and the robbers were caught after their vehicle was forced into a hedge.
Judge Anthony Scott-Gall told them: "All of you have dire criminal records. You take drugs and you drink too much. None of you has ever had a proper job, and you have no respect for the decent values of civilised society."
Evans, of Sheerness, Kent, was jailed for eight years; Stilwell, of Greenwich, south-east London, was imprisoned for seven years; and Lidell, also of Greenwich, was jailed for six years.
After the hearing, John Clark, a director of the jeweller's shop, said: "People's courage and ingenuity was fantastic. It was like there was a team out there batting for us."