Hatton Garden jewellery burglary: Insider theory explored as detectives ask all companies in the building for employee lists

Police revealed that there was no sign of forced entry suggesting the thieves, may have had an accomplice already in the building so they could gain access

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The Independent Online

Detectives investigating the Hatton Garden jewel heist have asked all companies in the building for employee lists as they focus on an insider theory.

Police revealed that there was no sign of forced entry suggesting the thieves, who stole around £200m during their Easter weekend raid, may have had an accomplice already in the building so they could gain access.

Flying Squad officers want to know why the gang disabled the communal lift on the second floor where other firms are based. The thieves then used the lift shaft to climb into the basement where Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd is located.

After forcing open the shutter doors they used a £3,700 construction drill to make a series of bore holes weakening the wall before knocking it through. The gang managed to open around 70 of the firm’s 600 boxes over the Easter weekend before making their escape.

One source told The Independent: “The police are checking the status of current and former employees from firms in the building, as well as people who had access to the building, because now that they know the gang did not force their way into the building they presume an [insider] must have helped them.”

The source said the gang activated a vibration alarm but that it soon went off. A security guard responded to the alarm on Good Friday but allegedly left the scene without going inside.

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Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson of the Flying Squad talks to the press outside (PA)

DCI Paul Johnson, speaking outside the safe deposit box firm in the heart of London’s diamond district, said: “The building where the theft took place is made up of a number of businesses, with a communal entrance. There was no sign of a forced entry to the outside of the building. The thieves have disabled the communal lift on the second floor and then used the lift shaft to climb down into the basement.”

He said the drill they used to bore holes into the two-metre thick re-enforced concrete vault wall was a Hilti DD350 and that police were still in the process of forensically examining the “chaotic” scene.

“The vault is covered in dust and debris and the floor is strewn with discarded safety deposit boxes and numerous power tools, including an angle grinder, concrete drills and crowbars. Officers are in the process of identifying the owners of the safety deposit boxes and as we do, we are contacting them to take statements and find out what has been stolen. This is a slow and ongoing process, but is essential to ensure officers can gather as much evidence and opportunities to identify the thieves.”

Aadil Shaikh, an investment banker whose father has a deposit box with the company, said people were “shell-shocked”, and expressed his anger that the family did not know if they had been a victim.

He said: “We deserve an answer. It has been close to 76 hours and it is preposterous that we have been made to wait like this. Look around you, look at the industry, it is at a standstill. It is not a joke, People’s livelihoods are at stake.

“These are questions that need to be adequately answered and at the moment there has been no answer whatsoever, no assurances been made and people, as if they are cattle, made to wait to be slaughtered. It is a very undignified way of treating clients.”

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A policeman emerges from a Hatton Garden safe deposit centre (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

 

Victoria McKay, Chief Operating Officer of trade association London Diamond Bourse, said: “We are greatly concerned by the effects of this crime on the industry as a whole and our thoughts are with those affected in anyway. We do not hold information pertaining to the whereabouts of our members’ goods so are not in a position to make statements regarding their losses. There is a common misconception that all those in the trade are exceptionally wealthy and will be able to absorb losses.

“This is simply not the case as there are many people in the trade who earn an everyday living in an industry already squeezed by tough market conditions. Time will only tell what the ongoing effects will be.”

Scotland Yard said it had not ruled out insider knowledge and that investigations were ongoing.