NAG urges jewellers to help solve Avis murder

Police have released this picture of 28-year-old Pyotr Melaniuk who has tattoos and missing fingers.

Police search for tattooed man as BRC stats show retail crime is up.

The National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) is appealing to retail jewellers to help find the killers of Suffolk jeweller Peter Avis by sharing information through SaferGems.

Avis, who was a member of the NAG and “a friend of the association”, was killed in the flat above his shop WH Collins & Son in Bury St Edmunds during a bungled robbery on January 13.

To date three people have been charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of Avis but police are still on the hunt for a 28-year-old Polish man called Pyotr Melaniuk who is wanted for questioning in connection with the enquiry.

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Melaniuk is described a 5ft 6ins tall, of slim to medium build, has short hair and is known to also go by the names of Irek Marciewicz, Pyotr Kelaniuil, Kamil Wislak and Ireneusz Melaniuk. Melaniuk has one distinguishing feature that retailers should be on the lookout for – the two middle fingers and thumb of his right hand are missing and he has tattoos on his hands and a spider tattoo on his right arm.

Since the initial arrests Police have issued an appeal for help in tracing a 28-year-old Pyotr Melaniuk who is wanted for questioning in connection with the inquiry. Mr Melaniuk, who is Polish, is also thought to go by the names Irek Marciewicz, Pyotr Kelaniuil, Kamil Wislak and Ireneusz Melaniuk. He is described as white, 5ft 6ins tall, slim to medium build, with short hair.

A distinguishing feature is that the two middle fingers of his right hand above the knuckles are missing together with the thumb from the same hand. He also has tattoos on his hands and a spider tattoo on his right arm.

Detective Superintendent Julian Gregory, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, said: “I would stress that if anyone does see Melaniuck or someone they suspect to be him, they should not approach him but should call police immediately using 999 if necessary.

“We would like to reassure the public that we are working closely with other forces to apprehend this man as soon as possible.”

If you spot someone you suspect to be Melaniuck you can call the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team on 0800 096 1011, Suffolk Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

The hunt for Avis’s killers comes as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has unveiled its latest retail crime statistics that estimate it has cost the UK retail industry £1.4 billion on the last year with a 31% uplift in retail crime. According to the BRC the number of robberies increased 20% in 2011 and the average cost per incident went up 17% from £847 to £989.

At a time when crime is on the up, the NAG is urging retail jewellers to work together to protect themselves by joining up to its SaferGems scheme, an information-sharing network that allows industry professionals to share information on crimes and suspicious incidents, which in turn SaferGems then shares with police forces across the UK.

Last year SaferGems, which is a joint venture between the NAG and insurance broker TH March, received information about more than 650 attempted attacks and suspicious incidents, an average of 60 reports a month. Of those, 93 were recorded as robberies, 17 of which concerned jewellery sales reps on the road, and equated to £10 million-worth of goods being stolen.

A recorded 69 aggravated burglaries or smash-and-grab attacks accounted for more than £1.2 million-worth of stock stolen, whilst 73 commercial burglaries resulted in almost £1 million-worth of goods stolen. The SaferGems team also recorded 344 offences of theft, 172 of which involved distraction or sleight-of-hand techniques with approximately £280,000-worth of goods stolen.

NAG chief executive Michael Hoare said: “No matter how the figures stack up, the unspoken cost of crime against jewellers is calculated in fear, stress, and the loss of valued colleagues, who may conclude that this week’s events have tipped the balance against a career in the trade. One of the most effective weapons we have at our disposal is intelligence, and I would urge everyone to join the fight against jewellery crime by signing up to SaferGems. Or if they are already members, by activating their alerts right away.”

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