"they had concocted a fool-proof plan to steal a large sum of money"
Shaaera Begum, aged 21, of London, was jailed for one year and six months for her involvement in a £67,000 heist.
On April 17, 2023, police received a call from a woman in distress who said the store she worked in, Eurochange in Elmsleigh Shopping Centre, had just been robbed.
Begum claimed that she had arrived at the store at 8:30 am for her shift when a man wearing a balaclava pushed his way in.
She said he slapped her, threatened her with scissors and forced her to empty the safe, before taping her hands together.
The man then fled the store with £67,000 in cash.
Detectives noticed inconsistencies in her account, especially because she kept changing her reason for not pressing the store’s alarm button.
Begum first said the man had stopped her from doing so and then claimed it did not work.
CCTV footage also showed the pair entering the shopping centre almost simultaneously, with the man clearly on the phone to someone as he was walking.
Detectives then analysed call data on the woman’s phone, which showed that she was often in contact with the same number and that on the morning of the robbery, there had been contact with the number six times.
Further analysis of the phone number showed it was linked to a pre-paid unregistered device, however, it had also been used in a second handset which was registered.
This device was sold to a Cash Converters shop on April 11.
CCTV footage from the shop on the date of the sale led them to identify Omar Chowdhury.
Chowdhury was arrested on April 20 at his home in Camden, where officers found the same clothing worn by the suspect during the robbery.
Begum was also arrested.
Both of their phones were seized and it revealed that Begum was in on the heist.
She texted Chowdhury to say that he should give her a black eye during the heist and that she would have to “milk it” for it to be believable.
In response, he said:
“Yeah, I’ll kick you whilst you’re on the floor.”
After the robbery, he again messaged Begum, declaring: “I just committed armed robbery.”
The pair were charged and later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle, and conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice.
Chowdhury and Begum were each sentenced to one year and six months in prison.
Investigator Tania Watson said:
“It’s clear that Chowdhury and Begum thought they had concocted a fool-proof plan to steal a large sum of money and would face no consequences for doing so.
“Fortunately, due to good old-fashioned police work and their own lack of judgement, their plot was quickly foiled.
“I hope that their time behind bars gives them ample time to reflect on their appalling behaviour.”