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Raided vault alarm response probed

Published 09/04/2015

Police forensics officers are working at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company
Police forensics officers are working at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company

The Metropolitan Police has refused to confirm whether it attended the activation of an alarm at a Hatton Garden safety deposit vault that was raided over the Easter weekend.

The lack of information comes as potential victims have expressed their anger at being left in the dark over the investigation.

An alarm at Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Company went off on Good Friday, but police were not called until 8.10am on Tuesday.

Scotland Yard Flying Squad Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson revealed that they are investigating the activation of the alarm and the police response.

Speaking at a press conference outside the scene in London's jewellery district, he added that detectives were met with chaotic scenes when they finally got into the vault.

He described dust, debris, and empty deposit boxes being strewn across the floor of the vault which they drilled into using a heavy duty Hilti DD350 drill - worth around £3,500.

The thieves also abandoned a cache of power tools - including an angle grinder - concrete drills and crowbars, before fleeing with goods estimated to be worth millions of pounds.

But the true worth of the contents of the raided safety deposit boxes will never be known because customers are not required to disclose the contents.

Although Mr Johnson would not give details of the items stolen, diamonds, jewellery and gold are thought to form part of the haul.

Mr Johnson said the raid had been "organised and sophisticated" and getting to the bottom of what happened would be a "painstaking and meticulous" process.

He outlined that there was no sign of forced entry to the outside of the building and that the thieves had disabled the communal lift in the building on the second floor, and then used the lift shaft to climb into the basement.

They then set about forcing the shutter doors to the basement open, and made their way the vault where they used the Hilti DD350 to bore holes into the vault wall.

Aadil Shaikh, an investment banker whose father has a deposit box with the company, said people were "shell-shocked" and businesses had come to a standstill.

He spoke of his anger at still not knowing whose boxes had been affected, and said they had been dealt with in a very "undignified" manner.

Mr Shaikh said: "Either they have been broken into or not."

"We deserve an answer. It has been close to 76 hours and it is preposterous that we have been made to wait like this.

"Look around you, look at the industry, it is at a standstill. It is not a joke, people's livelihoods are at stake."

Mr Shaikh said it was a "moot point" whether people were insured or not.

He said: "If you insure a product, why on Earth would you want to keep it in a safe deposit box? It defeats the purpose.

"We expect state-of-the-art security over here, this is Hatton Garden we are talking about, and this place had been broken into twice before.

"Why wasn't there seismic meters, why wasn't there a fail-safe for an alarm system going off?

"These are questions that need to be adequately answered and at the moment there has been no answer whatsoever, no assurances been made and people, as if they are cattle, made to wait to be slaughtered.

"It is a very undignified way of treating clients."

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