POLICE are investigating a brazen raid on a Masonic Lodge which saw "irreplaceable" cerermonial jewellery worth thousands of pounds stolen from a display cabinet

The robbery took place at the Roman Eagle Lodge on Johnston Terrace, with gold masonic chains dating back to 1920 being taken from the case in the lodge committee room.

Lodge members believe a sneak thief entered the premises pretending to be a workman and police want

to speak to a new on CCTV leaving the premises.

They believe the culprit escaped with the £5000 haul in less than four minutes - suggesting careful planning.

Secretary Harry Wilson, who discovered - the theft, said the items stolen were "irreplaceable" and of significant historic value.

"When I walked into the committee room I got the shock of my life," he said. "I thought the display cabinet had just fallen off the wall when I saw the blank space. But as I walked over to it I saw the back had been ripped off and the masonic jewels had been taken out."

The exhibition case was not alarmed but Mr Wilson said he may have seen the thief leaving the premises but failed to challenge him.

"I think I saw the guy but didn't pay any attention to him because we had workmen coming in and out of the building doing up the windows," he said. "I thought it was one of the workmen who was bringing materials in.”

And he added: "I suspect [the thief] has been in the building before either as a visitor or to one of the Burn's Suppers which we had in February, because he seemed to know what he wanted and-made a beeline for the committee room where the jewels were exhibited.

"According to CCTV he was in and out within three-and-a-half minutes."

The missing chains - similar to costume jewellery worn by mayors - were presented to founding members of the St Giles' Chapter of Masons, now an extension of the Roman Eagle Lodge.

Mr Wilson added: "It would be such a shame if they were melted down for the value of their gold - that would be ridiculous. "

Police said the theft occurred some time between February 28 and March 1 and officers are keen to trace a man seen leaving the building around 11.40am List Thursday.

He is described as white, in his late teens or early twenties, 5ft 7ins- tall, clean shaven, with a chubby build, and short black hair.

He was wearing thick black jackets with a to logo on the left hand side, and was wearing dark bottoms.

A police spokesman said: "Anyone who was in the area of Johnston Terrace around midday last Thursday, who saw anyone acting suspiciously there, should contact police.

"Anyone else who has been offered the items for sale, or who has any other information, should also get in touch."


Edinburgh Evening News.