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The alleged Hatton Garden jewellery thieves ranged in age from 42 to 76. Source: Elizabeth Cook
The alleged Hatton Garden jewellery thieves ranged in age from 42 to 76. Source: Elizabeth Cook

‘Dad’s Army’ charged for Hatton Garden jewellery raid

A group of somewhat unlikely suspects have been charged in relation to the high-profile Hatton Garden jewellery heist.

Eight men, who range in age from 48 to 76 and have been described as a “Dad’s Army” by various news reports, were charged on Thursday 21 May with conspiracy to burgle.

Another 42-year-old suspect was arrested on the same day and charged on Friday 22 May with the same crime.

Craig Turner, Metropolitan Police detective superintendent
Craig Turner, Metropolitan Police detective superintendent

The robbery occurred in April this year at a safety deposit business located in London’s jewellery and diamond district, Hatton Garden. The theft made international headlines not only because about £200 million (AU$396.3 m) in jewellery and other items were estimated to have been stolen but also because the brazen operation resembled the kinds of highly complicated, fictitious heists seen in Hollywood movies.

Having looted about 70 safety deposit boxes – many of which were believed to belong to those working in the jewellery and diamond trade – across two days, the thieves abseiled down an elevator shaft and drilled through a two metre-thick, concrete-reinforced vault wall to gain access to the highly secured area.

Media coverage of the suspects’ court appearance last week referred to the group as a “Dad’s Army” gang, noting that most of the men had greying or white hair, some were hard of hearing and had to have questions repeated back to them, and one exhibiting a limp required assistance to his seat.

The eight suspects, who all appeared to be British residents, have been remanded in custody until 4 June where they will appear in front of a Crown Court.

Peter Spindler, Metropolitan Police commander
Peter Spindler, Metropolitan Police commander

A 10th man, aged 43 years, was also arrested; however, he was granted bail pending further enquiries.

Addressing criticism

In a press conference held after the police raids that led to the men’s arrests, Metropolitan Police detective superintendent Craig Turner said a “significant amount of high value property” had been recovered and would be returned to the owners in due course.

Police commander Peter Spindler also formally acknowledged criticism that police had failed to respond to an initial alarm that was activated on the first day of the heist.

“I know that this [alarm call] has been troubling people, and what I want to say is that on this occasion the systems and processes that we have in place with the alarm companies weren’t followed,” he said, adding, “And as a result of that, officers did not attend the premises when in fact they probably should have done; and for that I want to apologise.”

Spindler explained that security officers had been sent to the premises to investigate the alarm but that the multi-floored building had appeared secure. He added police were undertaking an “ongoing review” of the matter to ensure such an incident would not occur again.

More reading
Hollywood-style jewellery heist still baffles

Wednesday, 22 May, 2019 07:52pm
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