International jewellery heist thwarted after Manchester hotel raid

Police uncover £2m worth of fake euros and £100,000 of designer watches

International jewellery heist thwarted after hotel raid

Police have stopped an international jewellery heist, dubbed 'The Italian Job', after raiding a hotel in Manchester.

A dozen officers stormed the Portland Thistle Hotel in front of shocked guests and arrested four men.

They seized £2 million worth of counterfeit Euros and £100,000 worth of watches.

The four men allegedly dressed in Italian suits, and claimed to be from Italy as they drove around in an Alfa Romeo and an Audi A8 trying to carry out a pre-Christmas fraud.

Police believe they were actually Eastern European and are part of an international organised crime gang.

Detective Inspetor Rob Cousen, from the Serious and Organised Crime Group, told the Manchester Evening News: "We had only established an hour earlier they were in the Portland.

"We had previously received intelligence that a Manchester jeweller had been targeted by a gang. Those arrested have given details of who they claim to be but they had a number of ID cards.

"We believe they are probably from Eastern Europe and linked to an international organised crime gang."

According to the Mirror, he continued: "They were very sharply dressed, flash, and wore a lot jewellery. We are trying to establish if the jewellery they had was real or fake. They claimed to be Italian - a proper Italian job.

"They had hired the Denis Law conference suite, which gives an indication of their suspected plans. You don't go to that much trouble for a small fraud.

"We believe we have stopped a number of jewellery businesses from going out of business. They could have been ruined by this kind of fraud, and lost everything, their livelihoods, even their homes."

The Press Association reports that Cousen added: "This type of crime causes a lot of harm to legitimate businesses and I hope the action this weekend reassures local businesses and residents we are committed to tackling organised crime in all its guises."

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