Seven members of a gang who pulled off a $20 million jewelry heist from a London vault have been found guilty in court.
The gang pulled off the biggest burglary in British legal history in Easter 2015 when they raided 56 safe deposit boxes at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Co. in the heart of London’s historic jewelry quarter. Making the heist more notable was that six of the seven thieves were past the age of 55.
“It was an audacious, brazen burglary that was some three years in the planning,” Scotland Yard’s Detective Superintendent Craig Turner says in a statement.
“Hatton Garden jewelers were amongst those who put their stock in the vaults during the bank holiday. They lost tens of thousands of pounds worth of jewelry, and for others it was part of their pension fund,” Turner says.
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The plot of the heist reads like a caper movie script: The gang initially broke into a elevator shaft and rappelled to the floor of the depository before breaking through a series of shutters with angle grinders and crowbars.
Then, they used a large construction drill to cut a man-sized hole through 20 inches of reinforced concrete. CCTV footage later captured them fleeing with wheelie bins and bags crammed with gold, diamonds and other valuable gems worth up to $20 million.
But their planning wasn’t as meticulous as they hoped. The weight of evidence was so strong that half the gang chose to plead guilty before the trial at Woolwich Crown Court in east London began.
Those who pleaded not guilty – unemployed William Lincoln, 60, and Carl Wood, 58, plus heating engineer Hugh Doyle, 48 – were also convicted. The entire crew – which includes Terry Perkins, 67, John Collins, 75, Daniel Jones, 58, and Brian Reader, 76 – is scheduled to be sentenced in early March.
While the seven criminals face lengthy jail sentences, the case is not over: Scotland Yard is still hunting for about $15 million worth of gold and jewelry – plus a mystery eighth member of the gang who has so far escaped the law.
“One man who has become known as ‘Basil’ is still wanted in connection with the burglary,” adds Supt. Turner. “We would ask anyone who has information as to the identity of ‘Basil’ or the whereabouts of the outstanding jewelry to contact police.”
Scotland Yard is offering a reward of 20,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of “Basil” and the recovery of the outstanding loot.