Thursday 23 November 2017

Hatton Garden heist: Were 'peculiar' power cuts linked to raid?

Undated handout photo taken from CCTV footage issued by Metropolitan Police of a suspect labelled Male C during the
Undated handout photo taken from CCTV footage issued by Metropolitan Police of a suspect labelled Male C during the "highly audacious" Hatton Garden Safety Deposit raid.
Undated handout photo taken from CCTV footage issued by Metropolitan Police of a white van used during the "highly audacious" Hatton Garden Safety Deposit raid.
Undated handout photo taken from CCTV footage issued by Metropolitan Police of a suspect labelled Male A during the "highly audacious" Hatton Garden Safety Deposit raid.
Undated handout photo taken from CCTV footage issued by Metropolitan Police of a suspect labelled Male B during the "highly audacious" Hatton Garden Safety Deposit raid.
File photo dated 07/04/15 of a police forensics officer entering the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company in London, as Scotland Yard confirmed it was investigating why the force did not respond to an intruder alarm which had been activated last Friday

David Barrett

Neighbours near the scene of the Hatton Garden robbery have disclosed the area suffered “peculiar” power cuts a week before the audacious raid.

In what may be a further clue of the thieves’ meticulous planning, power to nearby homes was lost exactly a week before the £60 million robbery.

It also emerged the gang behind the attack on Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in London’s diamond district may have carried out an almost identical raid in the same street less than a decade ago.

Both crimes took place over a quiet holiday weekend, giving the thieves extra time to break in unnoticed and make their getaway.

And in both robberies the thieves hid above the shop before disabling security devices and breaking through other security measures.

“It’s exactly the same modus operandi,” the shop owner, who asked not to be named, told The Sunday Times (£).

“It’s so similar. I reckon it’s the same gang.”

If the power outage was linked with the raid it may have provided the gang with a crucial opportunity to tamper with security alarms.

Farhana Begum, 19, who lives in a flat just 10 seconds’ walk from the scene of the latest crime, said: “About two weeks ago, so the weekend before it happened, there was an electrical cut.

"It was over that weekend. It happened on either the Friday or the Saturday. It was just a bit peculiar."

Miss Begum said her mother had also heard drilling noises late on the evening of Good Friday, when the robbery is now known to have been underway.

"It was probably about 9pm or 9.30pm. But there had been roadworks, or construction work, going on in the street for the last couple of weeks, so she thought that they may have been working late.

"But she did think it was quite weird that they would be drilling at that time.”

She went on: "We have had no communication from the police at all. They don't seem to have made any attempt to speak to us."

Other residents reported hearing a loud bang on either Good Friday or the following night.

John Han, 26, a data scientist, said: "We heard some type of loud noise which woke us up.

"It was late at night on the Friday or Saturday. I can't remember which.

"I heard some type of noise. I'm not sure what it was, but I thought they were just doing road works in the street again. But I did think to myself why would somebody be doing road works at that time."

A woman who lives in a flat above a Hatton Garden jewellers said her husband heard a loud noise on Good Friday.

 The lady, who asked not to be named, said: "My husband said he heard a loud bang late on Friday night, but he wasn't sure what it was. We have no idea if it was connected or not.”

The Easter weekend raid - thought to be Britain’s biggest ever heist – netted an estimated £60 million in gemstones and other valuables.

It is thought that at least one member of the gang hid in the upper floors of the building, which are occupied by other companies, late on Maundy Thursday to help other robbers gain entry.

CCTV footage released by Scotland Yard showed the raiders breaking into the safety deposit box company, where they spent two nights drilling through a reinforced concrete wall to reach the vault.

The multi-million pound haul was stuffed into wheelie bins before being loaded on to the back of a Ford Transit van.

Police said 72 of the 999 safety deposit boxes were opened. Of those, seven were empty. Police have so far contacted 42 owners and are trying to reach the remaining victims.

A parliamentary candidate who is being investigated by police for handing out sausage rolls has revealed he may have lost valuables in the raid.

Kim Rose, a Ukip candidate, is under investigation by police for allegedly "bribing" potential voters by offering them savoury pastries at a party event.

The jeweller, who is running for MP in the Labour-held constituency of Southampton Itchen, Hants, said the box contained a number of "personal items".

He criticised police for choosing to investigate him over his "petty wrong-doings" instead of "catching real criminals."

Mr Rose said: "The irony is that I actually keep jewellery in a box at Hatton Garden.

"I keep personal items of mine in there, I don't know if they were stolen or not. I'm going up to London next week to find out.

"I know that the police are just doing their job by following my case up as someone reported me, but to miss an alarm is outrageous."

A director of the firm which runs the safe deposit vault appeared to still be on holiday in Sudan.

Two of the registered directors of the firm are Mahendra Bavishi, 69, who lives in Khartoum, Sudan, and Manish Bavishi, 38, who is listed at an address in Kenton, near Harrow, north west London.

Manish Bavishi is reported to be on holiday in Sudan and neighbours said he has yet to return home.

All the curtains were drawn at the simple semi detached home in on a quiet residential street in Kenton.

Neighbours said he was not currently at home and had not been seen since before Easter.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said : "He's not back - I think he may be next week. I haven't seen him."

Another elderly neighbour said : "I've not seen him for a couple of weeks now. They seem a lovely family."

How the heist unfolded

20.19, Thursday, April 2 Staff at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd, which provides “secure” storage for their clients’ “irreplaceable personal belongings”, lock up for the Easter weekend. The company, normally opens Monday to Friday, is not due to reopen until Tuesday morning because of the bank holiday. Hatton Garden, in which many Jewish-run diamond jewellers operate, is especially quiet because Easter coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover

20.23 Four minutes later, the gang moves in. CCTV footage, made public yesterday, shows the first gang member arriving at a rear fire-exit door, reached through a narrow alley. Police later confirm there was no sign of forced entry. Dubbed Mr Ginger because of his red hair, seen beneath a black cap, the man wears latex gloves, a blue jacket and dark trousers. He is carrying a black bin bag

20.27 A second CCTV camera captures a white Ford Transit van driving down Greville Street, around the corner from the front entrance to Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. It pulls up at the entrance to the side alley that offers access to a rear fire exit door into the communal building housing the safe deposit boxes. Men drag wheelie bins down the alley before the van leaves

20.30 A second gang member, nicknamed the Gent because of his smart brown shoes, arrives carrying a large holdall. He has on a balaclava, a hard hat and a high-visibility jacket

20.31 The gang member dubbed Mr Strong appears at the back door. He has steel supports and wears a hard hat. The supports may serve to hold in place the diamond-tipped drill used to break into the vault. Mr Strong and the Gent then carry more tools into the building

20.36 A fourth man appears. Wearing a black sweatshirt bearing the words “Montana 93”, the man – Mr Montana – enters the building. He and Mr Strong drag in wheelie bins. One is thought to contain the 77lb drill used to bore through a 7ft reinforced concrete wall giving access to the basement vaults

00.21, Friday April 3 An intruder alarm is set off at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. The Southern Monitoring Alarm Company contacts the Metropolitan Police’s Central Communications Command. Police record the call but decide no response is needed – a decision now being internally investigated

01.00 Mr Ginger is seen by the back door. There is no more movement above ground for almost seven hours. Inside the building, the gang disable the lift, leaving it on the second floor. They use the lift shaft to reach the basement, where the safe deposit boxes are held. They force open shutter doors into the company’s offices and bore holes into the vault wall using a Hilti DD350 drill

07.51 The gang resurface after a night inside the premises. Mr Ginger leaves with two purple holdalls. Mr Montana carries out two red tool boxes. Footage shows him with a shaved head and possibly an earring. A minute later, the Gent briefly appears with a red monkey wrench and bolt cutters

08.02 The Gent emerges again with a black bucket of tools. Mr Montana and Mr Strong come up and put the tools in a bag

08.05 CCTV gives a first glimpse of the Old Man, a grey-haired gang member, who emerges from the side door

08.12 The white transit van pulls up in the alley. The gang load it with tools and drive off. Saturday is a normal working day and the streets around Hatton Garden will be busier than on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The gang are not seen again on CCTV for 38 hours

22.17, Saturday April 4

Mr Ginger is back, again wearing latex gloves and carrying a black bin bag

22.32 CCTV captures a first glimpse of the Tall Man. He wears a flat cap and carries a blue Nike bag and a red tool box. The Old Man joins him. No other gang members are seen and for the next seven hours the gang drill through the vault walls, forcing open up to 70 safe deposit boxes

05.46, Sunday April 5 The Tall Man, wearing an adidas top, emerges from the fire exit door carrying two red tools

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