CCTV News: Hatton Garden Raid suspects appear in court
Nine suspects appeared in court via video link today charged with conspiring to carry out what was probably the most audacious burglary seen in the UK for a generation- the Hatton Garden Raid. The arrests came after a huge operation by The Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad (of The Sweeney fame), culminating in the 9 arrests across London and Kent. Already reading like something out of a dubious British gangster film, the heist became seemingly more extraordinary when it was revealed that all but one of the suspects were aged over 50, and two were in their 70’s! It’s almost too perfect to imagine they were offered the chance to go on one last job…
Surreal circumstances aside, experts have suggested the raid was one of the best planned and most meticulously executed in recent years, and as a result could potentially ruin the businesses of many of the target’s clients. The CCTV images released are chilling, showing men dressed as workmen removing huge bags of valuables. So how did this incredible raid unfold, and what will be the consequences?
The target for the heist was a large vault filled with safety deposit boxes, located right in the middle of Hatton Garden, London’s famous “Diamond Quarter”. As is standard with safety deposit boxes, the contents were entirely secret, and fully known only to the clients who paid for storage. The vault beside Farrington underground station was located in the building’s basement, and reinforced with metal shutter doors and a 50cm thick concrete wall. To access it in such a busy area would require extensive planning and coordination.
Starting on the Thursday night before the Easter bank holiday weekend, the gang gained entry to the building, most likely from a side entrance. From there they disabled a communal lift on the second, and dropped down the lift shaft with ropes to the basement where the fault was located. It is thought that they left the building on Thursday, only to return and finish on Saturday night. During this time they somehow jimmied open two metal shutter days, and drilled 4 huge holes in the 50cm concrete wall, leaving a gap large enough for them to crawl through into the vault. Most astonishingly, the alarm was triggered during the robbery, and yet no officers were dispatched to investigate. Some have suggested that previous false alarms had left the building as a lower priority, are that they were advised as much by the alarm company operator. It is not known how long they were in the vault itself for, but they managed to break open and empty 72 out of the company’s 999 safety deposit boxes, and remove the contents in bin liners.
Another aspect that makes the crime so mysterious, is the fact that even now no one truly knows what has actually been stolen. Some have suggested that the relatively small percentage of boxes broken into points to an attempt to raid a specific user’s deposit box, a theory which has since spawned countless exotic guesses as to the actual target- for example shady figures in London’s criminal underground. However, loss adjuster Richard Marchant- who represents some of the victims- has suggested to the BBC it was mainly small businesses who were hit, and that the losses may put them beyond recovery after losing their livelihoods.