Owner of the Bourbon-Hanby antiques centre Ian Towning, who took on robbers, just after the raid.

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Speaking to ATG last week, Mr Towning said the three men, with a car and driver outside, were part of a gang known locally as the Hammer Brigade who have been terrorising the Knightsbridge/Chelsea area riding scooters and wearing balaclavas to stage smash-and-grab raids.

They smashed the doors of the Bourbon-Hanby centre three months ago but did not get away with anything. The police were informed and the gang tried again some time later, again getting nothing.

Mr Towning said that since the gang did not get anything with nighttime raids they staged a daylight robbery and at approximately 2.35pm on June 9 rushed into the centre, armed and wearing balaclavas, smashing glass counters.

However, Mr Towning and a young member of his staff fought back. The thieves fled with some £61,000 worth of jewellery, but Mr Towning is relieved they did not get substantially more.

"Because we resisted them they did not have enough time to get more," he said. But Mr Towning paid a considerable personal cost. He was badly injured, sustaining damage to his teeth and cuts needing stitches. Fortunately, his staff member was unhurt.

The centre was trading again the next day and the defiant owner was back on duty clearing up the debris just hours after the robbery. "We in the trade are tough and will not give in to vandals. We must fight back," he told ATG.

The police subsequently found what they believe to have been the getaway car and a man has been arrested.