Stealing is wrong and crime is bad—but are daring, nonviolent jewel heists less bad and wrong than other thefts and crimes? Probably not, but either way, we all want to know how thieves were able to steal an estimated £200 million (~$300 million) in jewels from the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. company’s building in London over Easter weekend. Here is a preliminary answer to that question via the Independent and Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson of the London Metropolitan Police Service’s Flying Squad:
- They were somehow able to enter the building without leaving any sign of forced entry.
- They “disabled the communal lift on the second floor” and used the elevator shaft to climb down to the level of the company’s vault.
- They “forced open heavy shutter doors to the basement.”
- And they “used a heavy duty Hilti DD350 drill to bore holes in the two-metre thick re-enforced concrete wall of the vault.”
The thieves reportedly opened up to 70 safe deposit boxes once inside the vault, which per the Guardian is used by “many of the jewellers who operate from the heart of London’s gem district.” (A number of clients’ valuables were/are reportedly uninsured.) It’s not clear how the thieves opened the boxes, but “power tools, including an angle grinder, concrete drills and crowbars” were left behind in the vault.
Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. was also robbed in 2003 on a smaller though no less brazen scale by a man posing as a customer. (He doesn’t appear to have ever been caught.)