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    8 Apr 2015

    Easter vault raiders steal up to £200million: Hatton Garden gem thieves cut through roof and disabled alarm system before abseiling down lift shaft to loot 300 safety deposit boxes over four days

    The estimated £200million-worth of jewels and diamonds stolen in the Hatton Garden gem heist 'are already out of the country', an expert has claimed.
    Thieves used heavy-duty cutting equipment to break into a vault packed with jewels in London's diamond district after abseiling down a lift shaft in a meticulously-planned raid over the weekend.
    The gang are thought to have struck on the Thursday night after workers had left the City for the long Easter weekend, giving them four days to break into around 70 safety deposit boxes kept in an underground vault.
    As London's jewellers waited to find out if their gems were among the huge number taken, former Flying Squad chief Barry Phillips told how stolen goods were usually whisked overseas in the hours immediately after similar raids.


     Mr Phillips said the gang were obviously professionals, who would have worked out where they were sending each of the items they stole in advance of the break-in.
    He told Sky News: 'It was a highly organised, sophisticated crime. It's highly likely that any gems or jewellery will have already been sourced and out of the country.'
    Neil Duttson, a diamond dealer who buys stones for private clients, said tracing any gems stolen in the heist would be nearly impossible.
    He said: 'Once diamonds have been re-cut and polished there is no geological map. I imagine they will be sat on for six months. You can expect some cheap diamonds will be coming on the market soon.'
    Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad are today carrying out finger-tip searches of the site.
    A spokesman 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. Officers anticipate this process to take approximately two days.'

     A customer of the premises raided has claimed an alarm went off at the site at 1pm on Good Friday but the building was not fully checked.
    Norman Bean, who stores around £35,000 worth of jewellery in his safe, 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.'
    Another jeweller in the area said local residents had been sent a letter telling them that any works they hear could be from the nearby Crossrail project.
    It is the second time the business has been raided in 13 years. Among the most valuable items feared to have been stolen is a half-cut aqua diamond worth £500,000.
    Jewellers, who often keep their gems in the safes during long weekends, fear a vast amount of diamonds, watches and cash has been taken. Some of those who use the site are not thought to be insured. 
    Another former member of the Flying Squad, Roy Ramm, told the BBC he 'wouldn't be surprised' if up to £200million-worth of jewels were taken, but said he thinks the full cost of the stolen gems may never be known.

    Angry customers have been gathering outside the deposit store. Michael Miller, a jeweller from Knightsbridge, London, said he 'felt sick' at the prospect of losing up to £50,000 of jewellery and watches, which - like many of the goods stored in deposit boxes there - were uninsured.
    'I can't believe this has actually happened,' he said; '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 any more.' 
    The deposit boxes were used by many jewellers in the area to store their stock at the end of the day, and some could be worth £1 million or £2 million each, he added.
    Speaking about the security at the company, Mr Miller said he thought guards worked only 'limited hours'.

    Others said the raid 'seems fishy' and suggested it could be an 'inside job'. A jeweller said: 'How did the alarm system not go off? They must have had inside information. I heard that they got in through the lift shaft.'
    Last night another jeweller who rents a safe deposit box said an alarm at the building went off on Good Friday at 1pm.
    Norman Bean, who stores around £35,000 worth of jewellery in his safe, said: 'On Friday one of the security guards turned up and he looked in through the door and couldn't hear anything so thought it was okay and left. It's an absolute disgrace. They could have been in there then.
    'I have been told that they got through the lift shaft and they knocked the wall down and took the CCTV cameras off the wall.'
    Gems wholesaler Mohammed Shah said he had about £100,000 worth of precious stones in a box.
    He told The Times: 'I am insured but many people who use these boxes are not. The truth is nobody really knows what is kept in these boxes.'

    The gang cut through two rows of metal security bars before disabling the alarm on the vault's main door, a source claimed.
    They then used heavy cutting equipment to get through the 18in metal door – an echo of Ray Winstone's 2000 film Sexy Beast, one of numerous heist movies targeting vaults buried beneath London's streets. 
    One theory is that the gang came in through the building's roof, but others think they may have hid in an upstairs office late on Thursday and waited to be locked in.


    Nicholas Solden, a dealer in the same building, said he was shocked that the premises had now been raided twice in two decades
    Police were finally called at 8.10am yesterday when the theft was discovered and Scotland Yard dispatched the Flying Squad to the scene. 
    It is thought the gang also stole the hard drive containing CCTV footage of the raid, making them all the more difficult to trace. 
    Mr Bean, 62, added: 'It could end up being one of the biggest robberies in London.' 
    Diamond jewellery expert Lewis Malka 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.' 
    Nicholas Solden, 54, a dealer in the same building, said he couldn't believe the premises had been raided again, after a similar heist in 2003.
    He said: 'I don't know how much he took, but all the dealers were pretty shocked. I find it hard to believe that they allowed it to happen again. This is what we don't need as a business.' 
    Another man who works at a family jewellers in Hatton Garden, said he would find out on Wednesday if his box had been stolen.
    He said: 'We have two generations worth of gold, diamonds and jewels in a box in Hatton Garden Safe Deposit. We won't know until tomorrow whether it's gone or not. It would be devastating if we lose it, the end of so much work, it could ruin us.
    'It's very frustrating waiting. But I'm determined not to think about that until tomorrow, I would have an awful night worrying about it. It's not the worst thing in the world. At least we're all still alive.' 
    Earlier Mr Malka tweeted: 'Quiet day in the office and then I find out one of my client's antique bracelets was stolen in the Hatton Garden robbery.' 

    Jewellery designer Thelma West said: 'Robbery at one of the biggest safe deposits in Hatton Garden over the Easter weekend. The loss is HUGE.'
    She added: 'A lot of jewellers & dealers put their stock in safe deposits over holiday periods. Easter & pesach meant very quiet Hatton Garden.'  
    Jewellers who use safety deposit boxes often don't have their stock insured and may have lost millions of pounds in the Easter weekend raid. 
    It may be difficult for detectives to put an exact value on what has been stolen due to the secretive nature of what is kept in safety deposit boxes. 
    Police said: 'The Flying Squad is investigating and detectives are currently at the scene. 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. Enquiries are ongoing.' 

     Read More:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3029066/Robbery-gang-use-heavy-cutting-equipment-break-vault-Hatton-Garden-jewellery-district-steal-300-safety-deposit-boxes.html
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