Gang leader was jailed after foiled '99 raid
THIS week's armed raid on Exeter's Ernest Jones is not the first time the jewellers has been hit by a major armed robbery.
In 1999, the city store was at the centre of a foiled robbery involving notorious gang member James "Jimmy" Roberts.
He was shot in the face by an armed policeman when he went into the High Street store brandishing a sawn-off shotgun in July 1999.
The bullet shattered his jawbone, disfiguring him permanently.
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Roberts was a leading member of a gang that carried out a series of robberies across the South of England, stealing more than £800,000 worth of jewellery, largely Rolex and Cartier watches. He was jailed at the Old Bailey in 2000 for 13 years, along with brothers Richard and Jamie Taylor, who were given 10 years, later reduced to seven and a half.
Police had known where the gang was going to strike in Exeter. At 9.20am on July 22 armed officers were waiting for Roberts as he walked in to the jewellers' and pulled a sawn-off shotgun out of a rucksack.
More recently, the store was hit by three thieves who walked away with jewellery worth more than £38,000 in September last year.