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About $384.1 million in jewellery and other items was reportedly stolen in the Hatton Garden heist
About $384.1 million in jewellery and other items was reportedly stolen in the Hatton Garden heist

Hollywood-style jewellery heist still baffles

Details on the high-profile, Hollywood-style Hatton Garden jewellery heist continue to emerge, with police having now released CCTV images of some of the thieves involved.

The crime – which took place during the Easter period – is said to be one of the largest ever committed in the UK, and involved a gang targeting a safety deposit business located in Hatton Garden, the jewellery and diamond district in London.

When the news first broke, multiple media reports suggested that around 300 safety deposit boxes – many believed to belong to those working in the jewellery and diamond trade – had been looted, and that the total value of jewellery and other items stolen was close to £200 million (AU$384.1 m).

The number of boxes has since been reduced to about 70, with no exact value of the stolen goods confirmed. Nevertheless, initial references to the theft being worthy of a movie plot appear to be substantiated.

The Metropolitan Police described the heist as “highly audacious”, explaining that the thieves visited the building twice on separate occasions.

The robbers first entered the premises on Thursday 2 April at 9:19pm before exiting the following morning at approximately 8:12am. They returned on Saturday 4 April at 10:17pm and didn’t leave until the next day at about 6:44am.

Police released CCTV images of the thieves
Police released CCTV images of the thieves

According to multiple media sources, the police issued a statement admitting an alarm was activated after the first break-in but that the police decided not to investigate.

The statement explained: “The call was recorded and transferred to the police’s CAD (computer aided despatch) system. A grade was applied to the call that meant that no police response was deemed to be required. We are now investigating why this grade was applied to the call.”

Many have speculated that the police’s failure to respond was what encouraged the thieves to make their second entry, however, the police statement claimed it was “too early to say if the handling of the call would have had an impact on the outcome of the incident”.

Police indicated there had been no signs of forced entry to the outside of the building, which has led to speculation that the heist was an ‘inside job’.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson of the Flying Squad – the department of the Metropolitan Police responsible for investigating bank and commercial armed robberies – said the thieves disabled the building’s communal lift before abseiling down the shaft into the basement.

They then forced open the shutter doors of the basement, made their way into the safety deposit vault, and drilled through the two metre-thick, concrete-reinforced vault wall before opening the deposit boxes. 

“The scene is chaotic,” Johnson said. “The vault is covered in dust and debris and the floor is strewn with discarded safety deposit boxes and numerous power tools, including an angle grinder, concrete drills and crowbars.”

Although the recently released CCTV stills depicted three suspects, it was believed at least six people were involved.

At the time of publication, the police had contacted more than 40 security box owners and were continuing their investigation.

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