British Police Arrest 7 Over Audacious Easter Jewelry Heist
The crime drew international headlines for its ingenious design and massive take. But now Scotland Yard says its "Flying Squad" has arrested seven men, ages 48-76, over the Hatton Garden theft that was reportedly one of the richest heists in Britain's history.
The arrests took place Tuesday morning, when more than 200 officers raided 12 addresses in north London and Kent, police say. They also recovered some of the heist's haul, which has been difficult to estimate (but has been placed at up to $300 million).
The break-in took place over the Easter holiday at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company, which is used by many of London's jewelry firms. As we reported, after reaching a rooftop, the thieves' plan required them "to abseil down an elevator shaft and penetrate a series of fortified doors to reach a trove of deposit boxes."
In late April, police released images of six suspects who were captured on surveillance cameras. A review of the building's system also found that the thieves took their time doing their work: after entering the building at 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, they left at 8 a.m. on Good Friday. They then returned Saturday night and left for the final time just before 7 a.m. Sunday.
From a statement issued today by Superintendent Craig Turner of the elite Flying Squad unit:
"A number of large bags containing significant amounts of high value property have been recovered from one address. Officers are confident these are items stolen during the burglary."
Scotland Yard says the search for more stolen valuables is continuing. The recovery would seem to contradict early speculation that the thieves might have been sophisticated enough to have lined up buyers for the loot in advance and had already discharged themselves of the gems and other valuables.
In announcing the breakthrough, the police also acknowledged that after an intruder alarm was tripped during the burglary, the department didn't follow its own policies.
From the police statement:
"Our normal procedures would have resulted in police attending the scene, and we apologize that this did not happen. "In this case, the owners had been notified by the alarm company and a security guard attended the building but saw nothing more than our officers would have done had they been deployed. "We are working closely with the alarm industry to improve the call handling and response processes at both ends to ensure nothing like this happens again."
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