British police arrest 7 for London jewel heist

The burglary took place over Easter weekend in the British capital.

Metropolitan Police/REUTERS
A photo released by the Metropolitan Police shows the scene in London after thieves made off with valuables worth millions, in an undated handout photo received on April 22, 2015.

More than 200 British police swooped down on suspected jewel thieves Tuesday, making arrests in the notorious Hatton Garden heist that took place in London over the Easter weekend.

Triumphant police, whose early work on the case had been criticized, said they believe some of the stolen loot has been recovered.

Scotland Yard said seven men, ranging in age from 48 to 76, are being questioned in a London police station after the morning raids. They were arrested in north London and in Kent, southeast of the city.

Commander Peter Spindler defended the police performance in the face of criticism of their previous efforts.

"At times we've been portrayed as if we have acted like Keystone Cops but I want to reassure you that in the finest traditions of Scotland Yard, these detectives have done their utmost to bring justice to the victims of this callous crime," he said.

Police said bags containing a significant amount of high-value property were recovered at ones of the addresses and they are confident some of these were items stolen during the burglary, when thieves broke into a vault containing safe-deposit boxes.

Police acknowledged that the alarm system procedures in place during the robbery were not properly followed, giving the thieves plenty of time to break into the boxes and escape.

"We are now in a position to confirm that on this occasion our call-handling system and procedures for working with the alarm-monitoring companies were not followed," police said.

"Our normal procedures would have resulted in police attending the scene, and we apologize that this did not happen."

The gang members, dressed in fluorescent vests and hard hats, entered the high-security vault area in London's world-famed diamond district carrying bags and wheeled garbage bins for carrying off the jewels.

They worked for two nights over the holiday weekend and left with the contents of dozens of safe-deposit boxes in a methodical heist that fascinated Britain.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.