Jewellery shop raider leaves empty-handed

The scene at Haydn Welch Jewllers, in High Street, after the raid.

The scene at Haydn Welch Jewllers, in High Street, after the raid. - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth business owner has relived the terrifying moment his town centre shop was targeted by a balaclava-clad criminal in a brazen smash and grab raid.

Haydn and Nicola Welch were preparing to close their High Street jewellers on Friday, December 18, when the masked man used a concrete cross tombstone to break down a locked door.

But despite the burglar initially getting his hands on a box of valuables, miraculously nothing was stolen – and the shop was open again for business the next day.

It later transpired that the stone cross had been stolen from the nearby graveyard.

Mr Welch told the Herald how an evening like any other suddenly descended into chaos.

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“The shop was open and we were getting ready to close,” he said. “I was in the shop at the time and my wife was working in the window display, behind the locked doors.

“All of a sudden, there was a huge commotion and the door [to the window display] was being bashed in.

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“My wife was inside the window, right by the door, but he didn’t care. He just bashed the cross through the door.

“I heard the commotion and ran across the shop and saw this man in a full-face balaclava – it was just his eyes showing.

“He narrowly missed her. She was close enough to smell his breath. Then he grabbed what was in reach.”

Quick-thinking Nicola managed to knock the box from the burglar’s hands, sending its contents spilling out over the floor.

“He dropped everything and ran,” said Mr Welch. “The whole thing lasted about 10 seconds.

“When we looked at the damage and the mess and counted the boxes, we thought we had lost some stock.

“Afterwards we counted all the stock. Not a single item was stolen.

“One piece made its way out of the door, but a member of the public handed it to us. That was really lovely.”

The pair worked until 2am to complete the stock check and repair the damage, and opened the shop for business later on the Saturday morning.

“It was the busiest day of the year, so we wanted to be open for our customers,” added Mr Welch.

Police say the suspect is described as around 5ft, 10ins tall, with a medium to stocky build.

He was wearing all black, including a bomber-style jacket, a balaclava, and gloves.

Officers are keen to speak with any witnesses who saw the man before or after the incident.

Call 101 and quote crime reference CR/086998/15.

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