Police probe smash-and-grab at London's Selfridges store

LONDON (AFP) - Police were on Friday investigating an audacious smash-and-grab robbery at London's famous Selfridges department store by six men dressed in burqas and brandishing axes.

The men entered the Oxford Street store on Thursday night dressed as women in full Islamic veils, before pulling out axes and smashing up a number of glass cabinets containing high-value watches, police said.

They made off with their loot on mopeds and motorbikes ridden by getaway drivers.

Two members of the gang came off their moped a few streets away while trying to flee the store, and were tackled to the ground by passers-by before being arrested.

"Members of the public prevented them from leaving until officers arrived on the scene," police said.

Eyewitness Matthew Carrozo, 28, from east London, said he was having a drink in a pub nearby when he heard the moped crash.

He said he saw a man run out from a nearby pizza restaurant and pin down one of the two people riding the bike, one of whom was wearing full biker gear, the other a burqa.

"The first guy pegged it (ran) down Charlotte Street and then he was held to the ground as other people were getting involved. He really put up a struggle," Mr Carrozo told reporters at the scene.

"When cops turned up, they put him in the back of a van and he was kicking and screaming. The other man was injured and is being attended to by paramedics.

"Apparently it was just an accident and the moped slipped on a grate on the ground."

Selfridges later tweeted that nobody was hurt during the robbery and said it would be open for business as usual on Friday.

Police confirmed that one of the men arrested was in custody and the other had been taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg.

Several watches were recovered from the scene of the crash.

Two other motorbikes believed to have been used in the robbery were found in another part of London later.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Noyes said police were studying closed-circuit television footage from the area.

"This was a brazen robbery, and appears to have been well planned and thought through. Fortunately no one was injured," he said.

"The store was very busy and this will have been a shocking thing for people to witness." Mr Noyes added: "I'd like to thank those members of the public who stepped in and detained our two suspects. Their quick thinking and brave actions have helped our investigation."