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Seven held over audacious London jewellery heist

19 May 2015, 17:58

London - Police on Tuesday arrested seven men over an audacious heist in London's diamond district last month, when a gang drilled through a reinforced concrete vault and broke into 72 safe deposit boxes.

The suspects, aged between 48 and 76, were arrested during raids on 12 addresses in London and the surrounding areas which yielded several bags of goods thought to have been stolen from the underground vault in Hatton Garden.

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"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," said a statement from London's Metropolitan Police.

Media reports suggest diamonds, jewels and cash worth tens of millions of pounds (euros, dollars) were taken during the night of April 3, at the start of the Easter bank holiday weekend.

"All seven men have been taken to a London police station. Searches at the addresses are ongoing," the Met said.

The force, known as Scotland Yard, has been criticised for its response to the burglary after admitting that officers did not follow up an alarm at the vault.

"At times we've been portrayed as if we have acted like Keystone Cops," Commander Peter Spindler said Tuesday.

"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."

The thieves drilled through the 50-centimetre (20-inch) concrete wall of the vault using what is believed to have been a diamond-tipped "Hilti" coring drill.

Detectives found no sign of forced entry into the main building, and believe that the thieves climbed down a lift shaft to reach the basement vault.

Photographs from the scene showed piles of dust-covered safety-deposit boxes with their lids crow-barred open and contents emptied and a safety door with its bars cut.

Tools including angle-grinders, concrete drills and crowbars were left behind.



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