UK police arrest pensioners over multi-million pound gem heist

Tue May 19, 2015 9:52am EDT
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - British police said they had arrested seven suspects, including three pensioners, on Tuesday over a multi-million pound raid in London's jewelry business district last month, which local media say could have been the country's biggest-ever heist.

In the audacious raid, thieves abseiled down a lift shaft at Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd over the Easter weekend when businesses in the area were closed, and bored their way through a two-meter thick wall into a vault using a heavy duty drill.

There, they ransacked dozens of boxes, taking cash and gems, some of which belonged to businesses in Hatton Garden, which is home to almost 300 diamond, gold and gem dealers and more than 50 jewelry shops.

Police have given no official detail of what was stolen but media have estimated it could be as much as 200 million pounds, dwarfing the amounts taken in Britain's previous biggest heists.

On Tuesday, more than 200 officers raided 12 addresses in north London and southeast England on Tuesday, arresting seven men, all British and aged over 48, on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle. Three of the men were aged 67, 74 and 76.

Detectives said large bags containing "significant amounts of high value property" were found in one of the properties they raided which they believed had been stolen during the burglary.

"This has been an exceptional, complex investigation and I thank everyone for remaining patient," Detective Superintendent Craig Turner, head of London Police's Flying Squad, told reporters.

Police have faced criticism for failing to respond to an alarm at the safe depository that went off during the burglary, and Commander Peter Spindler admitted that proper procedures had not been followed.   Continued...