Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, April 09, 2015


"The staff that manage the premises are making attempts to contact the owners, who are currently abroad."
Scotland Yard police spokesman

"The raid was well-planned and well executed. They must have had inside information to be able to get into premises like that, to know the routes, the vulnerabilities, the lift shaft, and to defeat a state-of-the-art security system."
Barry Phillips, (former) operational head, Flying Squad detectives
Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty    Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson of the London Metropolitan Police Service's Flying Squad  
Where do people deposit their savings to ensure they are well protected? Why banks, of course. And if those people have a cache of really valuable objects or documents that they want to ensure will never fall into the wrong hands, they use the banks' safety deposit systems. What could go wrong? It isn't considered intelligent to stuff mattresses or secrete valuables at home, though doubtless many people still belong to that school of thought, and sometimes with disastrous consequences.

In London, the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. represents the safekeeping venue for independent gem dealers located in the city's gem district. Many of these dealers don't have safes in their establishments, and many of them also don't have insurance on their valuable gems. So, obviously, the safe bet is to ensure that no unauthorized entities could possibly advantage themselves by theft of these precious commodities. Where else but in an establishment that specializes in protection of these assets?
Round Brillant Cut Diamond
So, surprise, surprise, an obviously thoroughly professional group of thieves with insider information thought up an audaciously ambitious blueprint for accessing these well-protected assets to avail themselves of the contents of up to 70 safety deposit boxes. Assets, said to be valued at up to $370 million, a considerable sum to represent a week-end's hard work. The gang, whoever they may be, planned well and employed considerable technical skill to win their reward.

Scotland Yard detectives appear convinced that the building had been under close surveillance days before the raid that took place on Easter weekend. It appears that the gang broke into offices above Hatton Garden and then cut through the roof, rappelled down an elevator shaft and used heavy equipment to break their way through 18-inch-thick metal doors to gain access to the establishment's vaults -- impermeable to unauthorized entry.

Until they disarmed the sophisticated alarm, took away with them the television security system's hard drive, and settled down to spend the long weekend shattering the safeguarded haven of up to 70 security boxes, and lovingly removing their contents. They might have been foiled when an alarm went off on the Friday afternoon when they were just in the initial stages of their operation. A security guard checked the main doors, however, and left the premises.

Police may never quite know the full value of the stolen objects given the sensitive nature of the safety deposit box industry. The victims, according to information from local jewellers, would be small, independent business and workshop owners, without safes of their own, and trustingly without insurance since why bother when they take steps such as those taken to ensure their goods would never fall into the wrong hands?
According to Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson of the London Metropolitan Police Service's Flying Squad:
  • The very industrious thieves were somehow able to enter the building without leaving any sign of forced entry;
  • Whereupon they "disabled the communal lift on the second floor" and used the elevator shaft to climb down to the level of the company's vault;
  • They then "forced open heavy shutter doors to the basement"'
  • And finally they "used a heavy duty Hilti DD350 drill to bore holes in the two-metre thick re-enforced concrete wall of the vault."
Sadly, people like Michael Miller, a jeweller from Knightsbridge have more than a pecuniary loss involved here. He explained that: "I have a collection of watches I was going to give my son and that is irreplaceable." Too bad, really, that Hatton Garden Safe Deposit was so satisfied with the mechanical safety measures they had installed that they felt they had little need to have an alert and dedicated professional staff of security guards on duty.
Another deposit box holder, 68-year-old Norman Bean, recounted a conversation he had with the guard who had heard the alarm: "He went downstairs, looked through the door, through the windows and couldn't see anything and came out again, that was it. I said, 'Well, why didn't you open up and have a look in?' He told me he doesn't get paid enough."

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