‘Huge’ haul in Hatton Garden heist

Published: Wednesday 8th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Detectives are continuing to determine the scale of a heist at a safety deposit centre as victims hope to learn whether their jewels and cash are among the “huge” haul stolen.

A gang of burglars escaped following the raid at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company in London’s famous Hatton Garden jewellery quarter, over the Easter weekend, and o fficers from the Met’s Flying Squad are investigating after p olice were called yesterday morning.

The burglars used heavy equipment to break into a vault containing several deposit boxes, mainly used by jewellers and gold dealers, with reports suggesting that up to 300 might have been plundered.

Norman Bean, who has a diamond ring and bracelets stored in one of the vaults, said detectives told him he will find out this afternoon if his valuables have been stolen.

He added the burglars were believed to have entered through a lift shaft on Friday afternoon and evaded detection by security guards. Detectives have told him he will find out this afternoon if his valuables have been stolen.

He said: “I came down and spoke to a security guard today. He said he came on Friday, the alarm was going off.

“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.

“They could have been there all weekend, who knows? It’s disgrace, it’s like something out of a film. I can’t believe it could happen.”

Diamond jewellery expert Lewis Malka, who works in Hatton Garden, explained that the boxes would mainly have been storing jewellery and loose diamonds in packets.

He said: ” Most of the people who have got safety deposits there are people in the trade.

“I know for a fact that some of my work colleagues have got boxes down there and we are talking about hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds in goods.

“The police aren’t allowing anyone in yet, so no one is too sure whose box has or hasn’t been touched.

“With the robbers having probably four days over the Easter weekend, there’s a good chance that they went through everything.”

Officers in forensic suits could be seen leaving the Hatton Garden Safety Deposit building with evidence bags and boxes.

There was no visible damage to the outside of the property, other than a loose wire in the side of the door.

Thelma West, a gemologist, designer and private jeweller who works in London and Anwerp, said jewellers often used the saftey deposit boxes to keep stick safe during public holidays and tweeted: “The loss is huge.”

Yesterday, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: “It appears that heavy cutting equipment has been used to get into a vault at the address, and a number of safety deposit boxes have been broken into. Inquiries are ongoing.”

It is not the first time safe deposit boxes have been targeted in the Hatton Garden area, which is well known for its diamond and gold trade.

In 2003 jewellery, cash and valuables worth an estimated £1.5 million were stolen when a criminal emptied a number of boxes at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Co after posing as a customer.

London suffered another famous safety deposit raid when the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre suffered what is believed to be one of the largest robberies in history in July 1987.

Two armed robbers asked to rent a safe deposit box and, after being shown into the vault, produced hand guns and made off with an estimated hoard of £60 million.

Valerio Viccei, the Italian mastermind behind the heist, was arrested as he returned to England to ship his Ferrari Testarrosa to Latin America and was later sentenced to 22 years in jail.

Published: Wednesday 8th April 2015 by The News Editor

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