Video ap­pears to show Lon­don di­a­mond-dis­trict heist gang

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY JILL LAW­LESS

The gang mem­bers, dressed in flu­o­res­cent vests and hard hats, calmly car­ried bags and wheeled garbage bins into a high-se­cu­rity stor­age fa­cil­ity in Lon­don’s di­a­mond dis­trict.

Af­ter two nights of work, they left with the con­tents of dozens of safe-de­posit boxes, in a me­thod­i­cal heist that has fas­ci­nated Bri­tain — and put po­lice on the de­fen­sive.

The Daily Mir­ror news­pa­per on Satur­day pub­lished surveil­lance­cam­era images that ap­pear to show the thieves in ac­tion. The footage shows sev­eral men, their faces cov­ered with dust masks, en­ter­ing and leav­ing the build­ing re­peat­edly over the Easter week­end.

Lon­don’s Metropoli­tan Po­lice said de­tec­tives had ob­tained the footage be­fore the news­pa­per pub­lished it, but did not give it to the Daily Mir­ror.

The force has ac­knowl­edged that a bur­glar alarm at the Hat­ton Gar­den Safe De­posit fa­cil­ity was trig­gered just af­ter mid­night on April 3, the start of the hol­i­day week­end, but no one was sent to check on it. The crime was not dis­cov­ered un­til busi­nesses re­opened on Tues­day.

John O’Con­nor, for­mer head of Scot­land Yard’s armed-rob­bery squad, told the BBC that the thieves ap­peared pro­fes­sional and well-pre­pared, but po­lice had been “ut­terly in­com­pe­tent” in not an­swer­ing the alarm call.

Po­lice say the thieves climbed down an el­e­va­tor shaft and drilled through con­crete walls 2 me­ters (6 feet) thick into the vault. They stole the con­tents of 72 safety de­posit boxes, which are used by many lo­cal deal­ers to store jew­elry.

Po­lice have not dis­closed value of the stolen goods.

Bri­tain has a soft spot for a good heist, and news­pa­pers have rev­eled in the emerg­ing de­tails of the rob­bery.

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Un­der the head­line “Di­a­mond Geezers,” the Daily Mir­ror dubbed one red-haired raider in the video footage “Mr. Gin­ger,” an­other “Mr. Strong” and a third, who ap­peared to be wear­ing ex­pen­sive shoes, “The Gent.”

Hat­ton Gar­den, the cen­ter of Bri­tain’s di­a­mond trade, has been hit by sev­eral au­da­cious rob­beries in the past.

In 1987, two armed rob­bers made off with an es­ti­mated 60 mil­lion pounds ( US$90 mil­lion at the time) worth of jew­els. In 1993, rob­bers hand­cuffed shop work­ers, broke through high-se­cu­rity doors and cracked a safe to steal mil­lions worth of di­a­monds.

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