A Nasty Text Helps Detectives Solve a Massive Burglary Case

How police tracked down 3 men who took Tamara Ecclestone's diamonds
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2022 7:12 AM CDT
The Key to Solving a Huge Jewelry Heist: a Nasty Text
CCTV footage, interviews with cabbies, and a hotel receptionist's recollection were key in breaking the case.   (Getty Images / shansekala)

(Newser) – That the $29 million theft of cash and jewelry from heiress Tamara Ecclestone's home was well investigated isn't too surprising. Somehow seeing it laid out step by step is. In a lengthy piece for the BBC, Thomas Mackintosh recounts how the case—"the biggest domestic burglary in English legal history"—was cracked. First, the crime: Just before Christmas 2019, a security guard came upon three unmasked men in Ecclestone’s dressing room. They fled with the goods and, per CCTV footage, through her back garden and into a cab. Detectives narrowed the list of cabs it could be to 1,006, then started interviewing the drivers until they found one who recalled three men jumping into his cab and being dropped at the rear of a Hilton. The details got a bit thinner from there.

Surveillance footage showed the men getting into another cab, which detectives also managed to track. Only the driver couldn't recall where he took the men—just a general area, and an unusual bridge. That was enough for the detectives to zoom in on St. Mary Cray, which was home to a budget hotel called TLK Apartments. Then came the weirdest break: Detective Constable Thomas Grimshaw felt compelled to visit the hotel, and the receptionist didn't just recall three men who had stayed there in mid-December ... she had one of their phone numbers. She explained that one of the men sent a graphic photo to her colleague on the hotel's after-hours iPhone, and they had saved his phone number under the name "Weirdo." Now Grimshaw had it. (Read the full story for much more on how the case unfolded—and the status of all those jewels.)

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