A man has admitted a £500,000 jewellery raid which brought terror to Lytham’s main street.
Darren Smith, of Irlam Square, Salford, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery at Preston Crown Court and will be sentenced in the new year.
The charge relates to an armed robbery at the former Leonard Dews jewellers in Lytham’s Clifton Street on 22 September 2011.
Smith’s conviction comes in the same week that Lytham suffered another armed raid – the second this year on Santander Bank opposite the former Leonard Dews site .
And a leading representative for the town’s traders said that the fact Smith has a Salford address adds to his feeling that Lytham is considered easy pickings for robbers from big city areas.
“I am pleased to hear he has been admitted the robbery,” said Robert Silverwood, vice-chairman of Lytham Business Group.
“But to me it shows that people from areas such as Salford and Manchester prefer to travel here rather than have a go on their own doorstep as they think they have more chance of getting away with it.
“Hopefully, this conviction will go some way to getting across the message that they won’t but I firmly believe we need a greater police presence in town to prevent incidents like this happening.”
Insp Keith Ogle, the police’s geographic nspector (Fylde), said: “I’d reassure people that we have a high visibility policing presence in Lytham, including a dedicated Community Beat Manager and two PCSOs in addition to 24/7 response cover from officers based on the Fylde.
“We also operate an enhanced visibility plan in run up to Christmas in partnership with Lytham Business Group which is supplemented by patrols from across the force.
“We’d urge people, particularly at this time of year to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to police.”
The Leonard Dews store closed last year before being rebranded and has since been replaced by a homeware boutique called Hidden Gem.
Smith is due to be sentenced at Burnley Crown Court on January 10.
Jewellery raid was ‘like something from a film’
The raid on Leonard Dews in September 2011 was the third on the store in four years and came just months after an armed raid on nearby Woodcocks jewellers.
Witnesses spoke at the time of their shock at the robbery carried out in broad daylight.
Keith Jenkins called 999 and said at the time: “It was like something from a film. One man put a sledgehammer right through the door and he made it clear if anybody tried to do anything they would have been attacked.”
Detectives later went on national TV appealing for information over the raid.