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Flying Squad

Thieves 'abseiled down lift shaft' to pull off a massive jewellery heist in London

Heavy cutting equipment was then used to get into the vault and open up to 70 safety deposit boxes.

Updated at 6.27pm

ONE OF THE biggest jewellery heists in Britain’s history was masterminded and carried out by a group of daring thieves over the weekend.

Jewellery and precious gems potentially worth millions were stolen from between 60 and 70 safety deposit boxes kept at Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd in London’s jewellery quarter.

Reports suggest the offenders abseiled down a lift shaft before using heavy cutting equipment to get into a vault at the address. A number of safety deposit boxes were then broken into.

The Flying Squad, a Met Police branch which investigates commercial robberies, is at the scene where a “slow and painstaking” forensic examination is underway.

Officers say they are photographing the area, recovering exhibits in “meticulous detail” and preserving evidence. They believe the process will take two days.

“This has all the hallmarks of a TV or Hollywood film production,” a former Flying Squad chief told Sky News.

“It was a highly organised, sophisticated crime,” continued Barry Phillips. “It’s highly likely that any gems or jewellery will have already been sourced and out of the country. If past jobs of this nature are taken into account, the thieves will have placed all of the jewellery prior to the robbery. That takes a high degree of organisation on behalf of the villains.”

It is not yet clear what the total value of the robbery is. Victims have been talking to local media, with one man telling The Guardian he had lost £35,000 of uninsured jewellery.

Another man – jeweller Michael Miller – said he had lost up to £50,000 worth of watches and jewellery, including an 18th birthday watch he had bought for his son on the day he was born.

He spoke of his “extreme shock”, adding that he “felt sick” about the robbery.

Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company raid PA Wire / Press Association Images PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

First posted at 3pm.

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