EIGHT Romanian nationals have been charged after an elaborate burglary at Lakeside Shopping Centre saw £1.2million worth of jewellery stolen.

Part of the shopping centre was closed yesterday after a burglary at Ernest Jones jewellers, on the second floor of the building, shortly after 3am on Saturday.

This came after a burglary at another jewellers in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon, which was reported just before 3.20am yesterday morning.

Detectives believe the burglaries were well planned and have been conducting extensive searches in the area, in which a dog unit helped search for the culprits.

The items were later recovered.

Officers are also investigating whether some road blocks, made up of tyres which had been set alight, were burned in an attempt to distract or impede the police response.

Emanoil Cretu, 26, Mihai Cuptor, 20, Claudiu-Eugen Cretu, 22, Gheorghe Rusu, 21, Ion-Alexandru Cuptor, 22, Costica Ferestrauaruf, 21, Ovidiu Cretu, 18, and Dimitri Spataru, 24, all of no fixed address, have been charged with one count of aggravated burglary this evening.

The men will be appearing before magistrates in Basildon tomorrow morning.

Superintendent Justin Smith said: "This appears to have been a well planned burglary which has resulted in a number of arrests following some excellent work by the public and police in the early hours of the morning."

Detectives are continuing to investigate a burglary at a jewellers in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon, and ask anyone with information to contact them at Grays CID on 101.