Related: Sunday Globe Special: British Gems
"Scotland Yard arrests 9 in major London jewel heist" by Gregory Katz Associated Press May 20, 2015
LONDON — With meticulous planning and good fortune, the thieves who broke into a safe deposit in London’s diamond district last month seemed to have pulled off the perfect jewel heist. But their luck ran out Tuesday when more than 200 Scotland Yard officers closed in on them.
The nine arrests were a triumph for embattled detectives whose early work on the investigation had been criticized because of an embarrassing failure to respond to a midnight alarm at the start of the long Easter holiday weekend. That gave the thieves more than 48 hours to carefully remove valuables stashed by jewelers in the Hatton Garden district.
The suspects, all British men between ages 43 and 76, were questioned in a London police station after coordinated morning raids in northern London and the southeastern district of Kent, Scotland Yard said.
The police agency said bags containing a significant amount of high-value property were recovered at one of the addresses, but officials did not assign a value to the heist.
The audacious robbery fascinated Britain. Dressed in fluorescent vests and hard hats, the thieves entered the high-security vault area in the London diamond district lugging bags and wheeled garbage bins to help them carry off the booty.
Made me laugh.
To gain entry, they climbed down an elevator shaft and drilled through concrete walls that were 6 feet thick. They made off with the contents of 72 safety deposit boxes.
The Metropolitan Police Service’s commander, Peter Spindler, on Tuesday defended his agency’s performance.
‘‘At times we’ve been portrayed as if we have acted like Keystone Kops, but I want to reassure you that in the finest traditions of Scotland Yard, these detectives have done their utmost to bring justice to the victims of this callous crime,’’ he said.
They didn't take the call seriously and then took forever to get there, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Nonetheless, police took the unusual step of apologizing for mishandling the alarm. ‘‘Our call-handling system and procedures for working with the alarm-monitoring companies were not followed,’’ they said. ‘‘Our normal procedures would have resulted in police attending the scene, and we apologize that this did not happen.’’
The facility’s intruder alarm sounded shortly after midnight April 3, but police did not respond; however, they asserted Tuesday that a security guard had checked outside the premises and found nothing amiss.
They asked victims to be patient while police sort out the recovered valuables in order to return them to owners. They said the investigation is still expanding and appealed to the public for information.
Apparently no one took notice of the thieves as they went about their business in the diamond district, nearly deserted over the holiday weekend.
Security footage showed the men, wearing dust masks, entering and leaving the building repeatedly after their arrival late on April 2. They worked throughout the night and left Friday morning, returning on Saturday night and leaving again Easter Sunday morning. The heist went undetected until Tuesday morning, April 7.
The gang had picked its target carefully — jewelers routinely store gems in the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. facility overnight and on weekends.
Couldn't possibly be fake or part of some scam.... could it?