Date Posted: 17-07-2017
Safe deposit robberies are a rare occurrence due to the extremely high levels of security put in place at the banks and safe deposit centres. One of the most recent and highly talked about safe deposit robberies was the Hatton Garden Heist in 2015.
In April 2015 the Hatton Garden safe deposit company, an underground safe deposit centre in London’s Hatton Garden area, was burgled. A total of £20 million was stolen and the incident has been called the largest burglary in English legal history.
The heist was planned and carried out by four elderly men who were experienced thieves, all of whom pleaded guilty and received prison sentences in March 2016. Four others were also tried on suspicion of involvement, 3 of which were found guilty, whilst the fourth was cleared.
The burglary occurred during a weekend in which Easter bank holiday and Passover coincided. Police first announced the facility had been burgled on 7th April, 5 days after CCTV footage shows the burglars first entering the centre on 2nd April just before 9:30pm. There were no externally visible signs of a forced entry to the premises. It was reported that the burglars entered the facility through a lift shaft, which they then placed an ‘out of order’ sign on, and then drilled through the 50cm thick vault walls with a Hilti DD350 industrial power drill.
The burglars spread the heist over 2 nights but on the first night, they set off the burglar alarm. Security guard Kelvin Stockwell was sent to the facility by owner after a call from the monitoring company said the alarm had been triggered and police had been informed. Stockwell arrived at around 1:15am on 3rd April to find no police in the area. After checking & realising the security doors and fire escape were secure he rang the son of the building’s owner to let him know everything seemed secure. According to the building owner’s son, a similar occurrence of the alarm going off happened a few years ago and was down to ‘an insect or similar’. Stockwell then left as it was policy for security guards not to enter the building in the absence of police.
The family who owned the building at the time had owned the company for around seven years. They said that whilst they had improved the alarm system after taking over the premises, the codes had not been changed. The layout of the vault, first installed in the 1940’s, and the basement of the premises had also remained the same. Owners believed that the burglars must have had some inside knowledge or information relating to the layout and security features of the vault.
It was only when staff returned to the building after the long weekend that they realised it had not been a false alarm. On 8th April press reports emerged speculating that a major underground fire in nearby Kingsway may have been started to create a diversion as part of the Hatton Garden burglary. The London Fire Brigade later said the fire was caused by an electrical fault with no sign of arson.
On the 1st of September 2015 the Hatton Garden safe deposit company announced that it had gone into liquidation as the business became insolvent due to ‘trade drying up’ as a result of the robbery.
Keeping businesses, especially ones which house many customers’ personal belongings and expensive items secure is vital. Any alarm that is triggered should be seen to suggest a break in, regardless of whether security doors are untampered with and intact.
The Safe Deposit Centre, Manchester, is the only centre in the North West to house a Grade 10 vault and our security systems are regularly maintained to ensure they are always up to the highest security level standards. Our safe deposit boxes start from as little as £40 a month on a 3 month contract and come in a range of sizes, with either key or electronic locking systems. View our range of products here on our website. Find out more about the high security safe deposit centre, or contact us if you wish to request a box with us, call 0161 273 7487.