One of the most daring heists in British history took place in London’s jewelry district, Hatton Garden. It happened on Easter weekend in 2015. A group of elderly criminals broke into a safe deposit facility and stole around £14 million (equivalent to £17 million in 2021) worth of valuables. However, authorities have recovered only £4.3 million of the loot. Many of the victims have not received compensation for their losses.
The heist garnered widespread media attention and left many wondering how someone or something could commit such a complex crime.
This article will explore the Hatton Garden robbery in depth, covering various aspects such as the area’s history, security protocols, the complexities of the crime, subsequent investigations and arrests, as well as the legal consequences of the case.. By the end of this article, you will have a thorough understanding of one of the most audacious burglaries in British history and the impact it had on the UK and global community.
Hatton Garden, located in the Holborn district of London, has been a hub for the jewelry trade for centuries. More than 300 jewelry businesses are in the area. They range from small independent stores to larger luxury brands. The Hatton Garden jewelry trade contributes around £500 million annually to the UK economy, experts estimate.
The heist took place at a safe deposit facility on the second floor of a building. It was on the corner of Hatton Garden and Greville Street. A company called Safe Deposit Company Limited ran the facility, which had been in operation since 1983. The company provided safe deposit boxes for customers to store valuable items, such as jewelry, gold, and cash.
Prior to the heist, people or customers considered the facility secure. CCTV cameras monitored the entrance to the building. A heavy metal door secured it and required a key code to enter. A double door protected the second-floor entrance to the safe deposit area. Only authorized customers with a key fob could open it. Once inside, customers had to pass through a metal detector and present their key fob. This gave them access to their safe deposit box.
In addition to these security measures, a security company called Premier Group International also protected the safe deposit facility. The security company provided 24-hour surveillance of the facility, including motion sensors, cameras, and alarm systems. They also carried out regular patrols of the building.
A group of criminals broke into the facility and stole millions of pounds worth of valuables. They bypassed the security measures. The Hatton Garden heist demonstrated that even the most secure facilities could be vulnerable to sophisticated criminal activity.
The Hatton Garden heist was a meticulously planned operation. It involved high-tech tools and extensive knowledge of the security measures.
The thieves carried out their operation during the four-day Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Many neighboring businesses in Hatton Garden were closed. They were also linked to the jewelry trade. Despite this, there were no apparent signs of forced entry into the premises from the outside.
The heist began on the evening of Thursday, April 2nd, when the criminals gained access to the building housing the safe deposit facility. They disabled the lift on the second floor and climbed down the lift shaft to the basement. From there, they used a diamond-tipped drill to bore a hole through the thick concrete wall of the vault.
Once inside the vault, the criminals used a series of power tools to break open around 70 safety deposit boxes. The thieves took jewelry, gold, and cash, with an estimated total value of around £14 million. The exact amount stolen is still unknown as their owners have not identified all of the boxes.
The heist continued over the course of the long weekend, with the criminals working through the night and into the early hours of the morning. They even took breaks to eat and rest, and at one point, someone or something delivered a pizza to them in the building.
Despite the extensive security measures in place, The staff of the safe deposit facility did not discover the heist until they arrived at work on Tuesday morning, April 7th. They found that someone or something had ransacked the vault and called the police.
Investigation and Arrests
How the police tracked down the suspects
The Hatton Garden heist was a complex and sophisticated operation that involved months of planning and preparation. However, despite the careful execution of the crime, the police eventually caught and brought the perpetrators to justice.
In the immediate aftermath of the heist, the police launched a massive investigation into the crime. They gathered CCTV footage from the area and interviewed witnesses who had seen suspicious activity around the safe deposit facility. They also collected forensic evidence from the scene, including DNA samples and fingerprints.
The evidence that linked them to the heist
The evidence identified several suspects who had been involved in the heist and the police used it. They launched a nationwide manhunt and eventually arrested nine individuals who had played various roles in the crime. Most of the suspects were older men with previous criminal records, and some had experience in the jewelry trade.
A number of items that were linked to the heist were discovered by the police during the investigation. They recovered some of these items from the homes of the suspects, while others were found buried in the countryside. In total, the police estimate that they recovered around one-third of the stolen goods, with an estimated value of around £4.3 million.
Officers from the Flying Squad arrested Brian Reader on 19 May 2015 in connection with the burglary. He was 76 years old and had previously laundered money from the Brink’s-Mat robbery. Later that year, in November, Carl Wood, William Lincoln, Jon Harbinson, and Hugh Doyle were all charged with conspiracy to commit burglary as well as conspiracy to conceal, convert, or transfer criminal property.
This was deemed to be the “largest burglary in English legal history.” Three years after the robbery, on 28 March 2018, The police or authorities searched his home in Islington and arrested Michael Seed, 57. The police or authorities charged him with conspiracy to burglarize and conspiracy to conceal or disguise criminal property.
Despite the recovery of some of the stolen items, their losses have yet to compensate many of the victims of the heist. Some have criticized the police response to the crime, arguing that they should have been able to prevent it or recover more of the stolen goods.
The Trial and Sentencing
Following their arrest, The court or authorities put The suspects in Hatton Garden heist on trial for their involvement in crime. The trial took place at Woolwich Crown Court in London and lasted for seven weeks, during which time the prosecution presented extensive evidence against the defendants.
The prosecution argued that the suspects had used sophisticated equipment to gain entry to the safe deposit facility and had spent hours inside, using power tools to break into the deposit boxes. They also presented evidence of the suspects’ DNA and fingerprints at the crime scene, as well as CCTV footage of them carrying out the heist.
The defence argued that circumstantial evidence was against their clients and that The police had unfairly targeted them. They also suggested that The investigation may have contaminated some of the evidence, including the DNA samples.
In March 2016, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary at Woolwich Crown Court, three members of the gang, namely John “Kenny” Collins, Daniel Jones, and Terry Perkins, each received a seven-year prison sentence from Woolwich Crown Court. Woolwich Crown Court also found Carl Wood and William Lincoln guilty of the same offense and one count of conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property and gave them a seven-year and six-year sentence respectively.
Woolwich Crown Court found Hugh Doyle guilty of concealing converting or transferring criminal property and gave him a suspended sentence of 21 months. In January 2018 Doyle was fined £367.50 for his general criminal conduct. In March 2016 Woolwich Crown Court sentenced Brian Reader the alleged ringleader to six years and three months in prison. Woolwich Crown Court also found Jon Harbinson the eighth man not guilty and discharged him.
In conclusion, the Hatton Garden heist of 2015 was a daring and audacious burglary that shocked the world. The criminals, who were all experienced and elderly career criminals, managed to break into a high-security facility in London’s jewelry district and steal millions of pounds worth of valuables. The public and the media closely followed The subsequent investigation and arrest of the suspects, as well as the trial and sentencing.
The Hatton Garden Heist consider as one of the most audacious and complex burglaries in British criminal history due to the meticulous planning, skillful execution, and the sheer amount of valuable loot stolen. The criminals involved in the heist used a range of sophisticated techniques and tools to break into the vault, including drilling through concrete walls and using thermal lances to cut through metal barriers. The age of some of the perpetrators, who were all senior citizens at the time, makes The heist also notable.