Anatomy of a heist: U.K. jewel thieves used drill, left no sign of forced entry
It sounds like something out of "Heat," "Ocean’s Eleven" or "The Dark Knight": robbers rappelling down an elevator shaft, drilling into a heavy-duty vault and making off with an estimated $370 million in jewels.
Police say that’s likely what happened in a daring safety deposit box robbery carried out over the Easter bank holiday weekend in London, England.
Det. Chief Inspector Paul Johnson shared details on Thursday of how London Metro Police think the heist went down at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd., which is located in the basement of a multi-purpose building in the city. The thieves made off with the contents of up to 70 safety deposit boxes, estimated to be worth about $370 million.
Johnson also asked the public for help in their pursuit of the perpetrators, who have not yet been identified by police.
“This is a slow and ongoing process,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Johnson said an alarm was triggered at the multi-purpose building at some point over the weekend, but there was no sign of forced entry outside the building. Police didn’t learn about the theft until it was reported early Tuesday morning, he said.
Johnson said the thieves accessed an elevator shaft from the second floor of the building and used it to make their way down to the basement, where they broke into the Hatton Garden and made their way to the vault.
The thieves then used a high-powered Hilti DD 350 drill to bore holes into the wall of the vault, he said.
“This wall is two metres thick and made of reinforced concrete,” Johnson said.
The Hilti DD350 sells for about $9,000 on the company’s website and includes a diamond coring drill bit that can carve through concrete. Photos on the site show it can create holes large enough to fit a hand through.
Hilti’s website indicates the drill weighs about 47 pounds (21 kilograms), making it a heavy but manageable option to bring along to a vault heist.
“The scene still remains chaotic down there,” Johnson said. “The vault is covered in dust and debris, and the floor is strewn with discarded safety deposit boxes and numerous power tools.”
Johnson said the thieves looted up to 70 safety deposit boxes by forcing them open.
Police are now in the process of contacting the owners of the safety deposit boxes to determine what was stolen.