This is the astonishing moment audacious thieves tunneled into an east London jewellery store and stole £1.8m worth of valuables.

In a heist similar to the now infamous Hatton Garden burglary, the eight-man gang used a sledgehammer and crow bar to smash a hole into the rear of the shop, which backs onto an alleyway.

CCTV footage shows one of the hooded thieves then crawl through the hole and into the Forest Gate store, before another can be seen helping him stash jewellery in a rucksack.

While the rest of the gang act as lookouts outside, the thieves spend three hours raiding the store before then leaving via the hole and making their escape on foot.

The raid took place at Joyalukkas in Green Street on 10 July, between 3am and 6.40am.

Staff arrived to the store for work just hours after the thieves had made their getaway to find it ransacked. Gold and diamond necklaces, bracelets, pendants and earrings worth an eye-watering £1.8m were taken, police said.

Detectives released CCTV footage of the heist on Friday (25 August) after failing to make any arrests.

Police are hunting eight men in total and have released images of three men suspected of acting as lookouts and footage of two of three suspects who crawled into the store.

One lookout wore a bright pink hooded top, another a black coat and the third a T-shirt and shorts.

The other suspects are described as all men with some aged in their mid-30s. The three inside the shop wore gloves and had their faces covered.

They are thought to have escaped by clambering over a wall into a builders' yard behind the shop, before making off towards Plashet Road.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Pallett, Newham CID said: "This was a meticulously planned and audacious raid on a jewellery shop with £1.8m of items stolen.

"While we think it only took the suspects around 20 mins to make the hole, it must have been noisy work and we would appeal for anyone who heard or saw anything suspicious to contact us.

"Likewise several men were hanging around the area for a number of hours before the raid. One wore a distinctive pink hoody - do you recognise anyone from the images we have released today? Or did you see them that day? The area was busy with shoppers and passers-by. If you have any information no matter how small, please come forward."

Officers would also like to hear from anyone who might have been offered items of jewellery for sale in the days or weeks following this incident.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Newham CID on 020 8217 5414 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also tweet information to police @MetCC.

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The gang took 20 minutes to make a hole in the store before crawling through and stashing jewellery in rucksacks Met Police
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Police would like to speak to these men who they believe acted as lookouts during the jewellery heist Met Police