Burglars used Google Street View to raid a millionaire hedge fund manager’s secluded mansion and steal £100,000 worth of jewellery, it emerged today.
Crooks broke into the home of Robin Bowie, founder of the international investment bank Dexion Capital plc, after studying aerial snaps of his sprawling property on the internet.
They stole a safe which they put into a wheelbarrow before forcing it open and stealing a haul of expensive jewellery and several thousand pounds in cash.
They made off in a silver-coloured saloon-style car just as Mr Bowie’s wife Sally, 51, arrived home at 7.30pm on January 10.
Raiders struck the palatial mansion of Mr Bowie in East Langton, Leics., where he lives with his wife Sally, 51, and their three children Georgina, Isabella and Johnny.
The intruders used a ladder to scale the 6ft-high perimeter wall at the front of the property before forcing open an upstairs window.
The gang then used a steel rod which they found on the family’s tennis court at the rear of the house to leaver out the safe which was bolted into a hidden cupboard.
A wheelbarrow in the garden was then used to transport the heavy safe to a waiting getaway car.
The brazen raiders were almost caught when Mrs Bowie returned home seconds before the gang sped away.
Mr Bowie said: “There was a combination of jewellery stolen.
“Things that were from my father and from my wife’s grandparents and parents, as well as things I had bought.
“My wife only saw one man but we think there would have had to have been more.
“I think they knew what they were looking for.
“We have lived in the house for 19 years and this is the first time we have been broken into.
“We do not have CCTV on the house. It is perfectly possible that whoever was responsible looked the property up on the internet.
“We live in an age where images and information is readily available on the internet and on the whole that is perfectly healthy and a good thing.
“However, Google is obviously a useful tool to those people planning burglaries.”
After dumping the wheelbarrow, the three raiders escaped in a pale, silver-coloured saloon-style car with the registration plate beginning with the letter R.
Yesterday Mr Bowie released pictures of the jewellery which was stolen in the hope that dealers who were offered it would report it to the police.
He added: “It just makes you so much more apprehensive and less open to people. You become more suspicious about things.”
The jewellery includes watches, a necklace, bracelets and earrings.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Melanie Fisher, of Leicestershire Police, said: “The victims have been left upset at the loss of their family jewellery and are keen to do everything possible to ensure the return of their property.
“We would urge jewellers and pawn brokers to have a look at the images and contact us if they have been approached by someone selling similar items or even visited by someone asking for them to value the items.
“We are also keen to speak to anybody who saw someone acting suspiciously in the area at the time or who knows who may be responsible for the burglary.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Leicestershire Police on 101.
Mr Bowie founded Dexion in 2000 with an investment of just 25,000 and now has net assets of #425million.