London Robbery

Meticulous Planning Pays Off in London Robbery

In a notorious example of effective project management, burglars gained entry to the Hatten Garden Safe Deposit facility in London over the Easter weekend.  Scotland Yard police were only alerted on Tuesday 7 April. A gem industry expert James Riley said the raid was ''a very highly organised and very cleverly masterminded crime''

Burglars entered on the top floor, broke through a wall, abseiled down a lift shaft, smashed through a concrete floor, cut through two metal gates and a 500mm thick vault door. They then cut open at least 70 of the 300 safety deposit boxes and departed with possibly hundreds of millions of pounds in jewellery and other valuables.

Police are running a 'painstaking' forensic examination that will take days to complete, as officers would have to trawl through footage taken weeks ago to find clear images of the thieves. A Scotland Yard statement said: "This is a slow and painstaking process involving forensic examination, photographing the scene and recovering exhibits in meticulous detail in order to preserve the evidence. Police will be contacting victims directly as and when they are identified."

The thieves may have had some kind of inside knowledge. For example, the brand new alarm system which had just been fitted in the building had not yet been switched on.

The amount of money and goods that was taken will never be fully revealed as there's a good chance that not everybody would declare their losses.

Some of the most daring London robberies were:

  • Two men disguised themselves using wigs and prosthetics and posed as clients to steal £40 million of jewellery from Graff Diamonds, Central London, in 2009. Four men were jailed over the raid.
  • A local gang was foiled trying to break into a diamond exhibition at the Millennium Dome, South East London, in 2000. They planned to escape in a speedboat with £350 million of jewels.
  • Several men abducted the manager of the Securitas depot and his family in Tonbridge, Kent, in 2006. They stole £53 million and four robbers got 15 years’ jail.
  • A raid led by Italian Valerio Viccei on the Knightsbridge Security Deposit, Central London, in 1987 landed his gang £60 million. Viccei fled abroad but was caught when he came to collect a Ferrari.
  • Gold bars in 76 boxes of gold, diamonds and cash worth £26 million (£75 million in today's money) were stolen from a warehouse near Heathrow in 1983 in the Brinks Mat robbery.

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