CRIME

Ancient Gravestone Used As Battering Ram In Lightning Jewelry Store Heist

Precious gems gone in 30 seconds.

A thief used an ancient granite gravestone to smash into a jewelry store and steal $45,000 worth of bangles, rings and bracelets.

Police said an Art Nouveau ruby necklace and a white gold cluster ring were among the most valuable items stolen in the raid on the store in southwest England early Saturday.

The burglar used the tombstone -- with the initials "IHS" engraved on the front -- as a battering ram to break the front door lock of Little Jems Jewelers in St Ives, Cornwall, reports the BBC.

Surveillance camera captured him opening two display cases full of valuables and throwing the jewelry into a bucket, Devon and Cornwall Police revealed in a Facebook post.

The entire theft took just 30 seconds and he fled immediately after, Yahoo News reports.

Store owner Jamie Wright discovered the burglary hours later, his daughter Amber Orchard said.

"They have taken a lot of stock -- mainly gold jewelry, but also sapphires, diamonds, rubies and emeralds," she told the TV station.

Devon and Cornwall Police said it was unclear how many people were involved in the raid, but only one man was captured on security camera footage.

The thief behind the Cannes 2013 heist in France -- which ranks among the largest jewelry theft in history -- was similarly quick in executing his crime.

A lone gunman made off with gemstones and watches worth around $136 million, in the daring operation, which The New York Times reported lasted "about as long as a movie trailer."

The robber walked into the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel, which featured in Alfred Hitchcock's movie "To Catch a Thief," and threatened unarmed guards before he vanished with his cache down a side street.

The jewels, belonging to Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, have never been recovered. A $1.3 million reward is on offer for information leading to their retrieval.

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