A group of thieves in London raided the city's diamond district, The Hatton Garden, over the weekend and made off with a record-setting $300 million worth in jewelry, diamonds, and cash. The thieves infiltrated a safe deposit center knowing that many of the jewelers in the area would have left their stock for the Easter weekend. It's possible the gang of thieves took the entire extended weekend to loot up to 300 safe deposit boxes, Business Insider reports.
It's believed that the thieves hid inside the building and waited for it to close before entering down a shaft. From there, they used heavy cutting equipment to break through the vault. "There is a double-door entry and a locked system to go in. You have to go through two doors to get in the place and then get into the vault," one of the jewelers told reporters. A security guard even heard an alarm go off on Friday, but he turned it off when there were no signs of forced entry.
Police are currently carrying out a "slow and painstaking" investigation at the scene, authorities said in a statement. They estimate canvassing the center could take "approximately two days."
If the current estimates of a $300 million haul are correct, it would be the largest jewelry heist in recent memory. The biggest before what this was the Antwerp Diamond Heist, where thieves got away with a relatively puny $132 million. However, this heist probably wasn't as ballsy as the ones involving a teen girl who single-handedly made off with $4 million worth of diamonds, or the gang in Berlin who robbed a store in broad daylight.
UPDATE 4/9/15: Just when the details surrounding this case couldn't get any crazier, a former London police chief is theorizing a large fire that broke out in London's Borough of Camden could be linked to the crime. John O'Connor, who was head of the division in Scotland Yard that handles specialist, organized crime, said of the fire that broke out last week, "Yeah, I think that probably was deliberate." He told a UK radio station, "I've never heard of an outage of electricity like that causing a fire that lasted as long as that. That seems to me as too much of a coincidence."
The fire lasted for 36 hours and caused problems to London's service tunnels throughout the entire Easter weekend, which is when the crime took place.
O'Connor added that he believes whoever committed the crime probably had a detailed layout of Hatton Garden and its security.
UPDATE 4/22/15: Metropolitan police have released findings from the investigation done surrounding this historic heist, and the details more or less match up with what was suspected.
Police found that the gang of thieves entered the secure area through an entrance shared with other businesses. They disabled an elevator and worked their way down the shaft and into where the security boxes are kept. The thieves used an angle grinder, concrete drills, and crowbars to pry open the shaft's metal doors and drill a hole through a thick concrete wall and into the vault.
The thieves looted 72 of the 999 security boxes, but still made off with a record haul. The Metropolitan Police released images of the crime scene, which you can see below, as well as an interactive graphic that lays out how the heist was pulled off.
[via Business Insider]