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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Gang behind Britain’s largest burglary greeted police by saying ‘we’re amazed you caught us’

Following the raids, detectives started out with only a grainy 15-second CCTV clip of the men entering the Ecclestones’ back garden, from which they could deduce the gang had taken an unidentified black cab to the address.

Officers then had to trace 1,007 black cabs in the vicinity of Kensington at that time and only found the burglars’ taxi on the 1,004th attempt.

After scouring hours of CCTV footage, officers were later able to trace Jovanovic to a south London hotel where he had checked in with his ID. From there they retraced his movements and identified his accomplices.

Hardly any of the items have been recovered and are thought to have been lost to laundering.

Mrs Ecclestone said she had been left “so scared” by the raids and is now struggling to “trust” her security to protect her family. She said many of the stolen items had been wedding gifts or had sentimental value, adding “a lot of it was really personal, I wanted to give some of the items to my daughter one day.”

Meanwhile, Mr Lampard said the crime had had a “major impact” on his general feeling of security. He added: “The fact that my job means I travel frequently again raises my concerns.”

The family of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha said their “sacred and special connection” to the late Leicester City FC owner “has been damaged and violated beyond repair”.

Following their arrests, Jovanovic, Maltese and Donati were extradited from Italy and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle between November 29 and December 18 2019 over the three raids.

Jovanovic also admitted conspiracy to commit money laundering between December 10 2019 and January 31 last year, and one count of attempting to convert criminal property.

He was jailed for 11 years by Judge Martin Edmunds QC, while Maltese and Donati were each sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison.

‘Life-changing effects on the victim’s own sense of safety’

The men, who were brought to court under armed police guard as a helicopter flew overhead, will return to Italy to serve their sentences following crime proceedings in the UK.

Sentencing the trio, Mr Edmunds said: “The distress caused by the burglary of a home of householders who may be well-known or wealthy is no less than that caused to those in different circumstances.

“There have been life-changing effects on the victim’s own sense of safety.”

A fourth member of the gang, Daniel Vukovic, 44, believed to be a Serbian national who uses a string of aliases, fled to the capital Belgrade, where he is still thought to be following a failed extradition bid.

Italian detectives have dubbed Mr Vukovic “Lupin” after the fictional master thief Arsène Lupin, a character created by the French novelist Maurice Leblanc in the early 1900s.

Prosecutor Timothy Cray QC said he was “the prime mover in organising the team in the UK” which “planned and executed the highest value burglaries that have ever come to light” in the country.

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