Daring thieves stole up to £200 million worth of diamonds and jewels from a safe deposit building after cutting through the roof, abseiling down a lift shaft and using heavy cutting equipment to break into 60 to 70 deposit boxes, police have said.
The Daily Mail reports that the thieves first targeted Hatton Gardens Safe Deposit Ltd on Good Friday after most workers had gone home for the Easter holiday. They were nearly caught after triggering an alarm, but the security guard on duty did not properly check the site as he “wasn’t paid enough”, a customer claimed.
Norman Bean, who keeps around £35,000 worth of jewellery in his safe at the site, 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.”
The thieves then had until Monday to break into as many of the safe deposit boxes as possible, with the robbery only discovered when staff returned to work Tuesday.
Among items feared to have been taken are a half-cut aqua diamond worth £500,000. Some of those who use the site are also not believed to be insured.
Customers have been gathering outside the building, with Michael Miller, a jeweller from Knightsbridge, confirming he may have lost up to £50,000 worth of uninsured jewellery. He said: “I can’t believe this has actually happened. If you look at their website, they say they are the safest place around. There is a double-door entry and a locked system to go in. You have to go through two doors to get in the place and then get into the vault.
“Most people who work here know us by face. I have a collection of watches I was going to give my son and that is irreplaceable. I bought an IWC GST Aquatimer on the day my son was born and I was going to give it to him when he turns 18. They don’t make them anymore.”
The gang is also thought to have stolen a hard drive containing all the CCTV footage from the weekend, making them even harder to trace.
Lewis Malka, another London jeweller, said: “From what I understand it happened over the weekend and it looked like they had come in through the lift shaft and gone into the basement where the safety deposit is.
“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.”
This is not the first time the building has been targeted. In 2003, a similar heist took place after a thief posed as a customer and raided a number of deposit boxes.