Hatton Garden trial told £14million jewellery heist 'must have been an inside job'
Security guard Kelvin Stockwell, an employee of more than two decades, agreed the thieves must have had "detailed inside information" to commit the crimeThe £14million jewellery heist in Hatton Garden must have been an inside job, a security guard who worked in the building for more than 20 years has told a court.
Eight men are accused of pulling off the biggest burglary in British legal history by drilling into a concrete vault beneath the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company in London over the Easter weekend this year.
The plot allegedly took the men days, requiring multiple attempts to reach the deposit boxes that contained precious stones, gold bullion, "cold hard cash" and even a taped confession.
It required an industrial drill to breach the reinforced concrete walls of the vault, filled with row upon row of hundreds of identical boxes.
Kelvin Stockwell, a security guard who worked in the building for more than two decades, agreed to the suggestion from Nick Corsellis, defending one of the men, that it was an inside job.
Mr Corsellis said: "I do not in any way seek to discredit you or cast any aspersions towards you, you do understand.
"But it is plain to you, is it not, having worked there for as many years as you have, appreciating the complexities of the security system, where things are located, how things were bypassed, what area of the vault was drilled into, that the people who were involved in this crime must have had detailed inside information to commit this crime. Do you agree?"
Mr Stockwell nodded in agreement.
Mr Corsellis was cross-examining the security guard on behalf of Carl Wood, one of four men who deny being part of the burglary.
Mr Stockwell told the court how he received a call in the early hours of April 3, just hours after the alleged break-in began, from Alok Bavishi, son of the building's owner, to say the alarm had been activated.
The seven-year-old system had not been triggered before, he said.
"He said the alarm system was sounding and going, he said the police were attending."
The guard agreed to go and check the building , arriving at around 12.40am to find no police on site.
"I saw a couple, a young boy and his girlfriend, that's all I saw.
"I went to the front of the building and pushed against the front doors, they were secure. I went around into Greville Street to check the fire exit and I looked through the letterbox."
Nothing caused the security guard concern so he returned to the building's front doors, he told the court.
"I called Alok, he said he was about five minutes away in the car. I told him the place was secure, he said 'go home'."
Mr Stockwell was the second security guard on the scene when the burglary was discovered as staff returned to work on April 7.
Arriving shortly after 8am he found guard Keefa Kamara in the ransacked building.
"He said 'we've been burgled'.
"I looked and there was a lock on the door and that had been popped, there was a hole through the wall and I saw that we had been burgled.
"On the floor there was drills, cutting material, the lights were on and the second floor (lift) barriers were left open.
"I went into the yard to get a signal and dialled 999."
Police officers arrived on the scene 15 to 20 minutes later, he told the court.
The building was fitted with an intruder alarm system that was monitored remotely by a security firm, the court was told.
Mr Stockwell said anyone who tripped the alarm would have "about a minute" to key the code into a control panel in the basement.
Jurors saw photos that showed the alarm's key pad had been ripped off and the transmitter removed. The cover to the control unit had also been removed to expose wires and circuitry inside, while a grey power cable leading to the unit had been severed.
Kevin Stockwell said the basement and vault were covered by an alarm system that sounded and flashed by the lights. But he added: "You wouldn't hear it from the street".
During cross-examination of Detective Constable Jamie Day, Mr Corsellis highlighted that the burglars took large amounts of jewels, gold bullion and cash, but boxes containing sentimental pieces or personal effects were ignored.
He said: "A tape was found. Ordinarily one might think that's something of very little value.
"It is a tape that related to a person, whose name is blacked out, admitting to something."
An image of a black and silver dictaphone contained in one of the boxes was also shown to the court.
A number of military medals were also left behind in the raid, Mr Corsellis said.
Daniel Jones, 58, Brian Reader, 76, John "Kenny" Collins, 75, and Terry Perkins, 67, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit.
Carl Wood, 58, William Lincoln, 60, and Jon Harbinson, 42, deny conspiracy to commit burglary between May 17 2014 and 7.30am on April 5 this year.
Plumbing engineer Hugh Doyle, 48, is jointly charged with them on one count of conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property between January 1 and May 19 this year.
He also denies the charges.
The trial continues.
Mysterious Thief Surfaces and Demands Ransom for Klimt Painting Stolen in 1997
Spanish police arrest two 'Pink Panther' jewel thieves
Police also recovered valuables worth more than €1m (£700,000) stolen from a jewellery shop on the island of Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, as part of the operation, they said in a statement.
The authorities declined to give further information, saying full details would be provided at a press conference on Thursday in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
Members of the Pink Panthers, a loosely aligned network of criminals, are drawn from paramilitary circles in the former Yugoslavia. The group, who have a weakness for expensive watches, have staged more than 380 robberies on luxury stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US since 1999, making off with booty worth more than €330m, according to Interpol.
Renowned for its spectacular heists, the gang drove two cars into a Dubai shopping mall and through the window of a jewellery store in 2007, taking goods worth €11m in a raid lasting less than a minute.
The following year, the group walked away with up to €85m-worth of valuables after entering the Harry Winston jewellers in Paris disguised as women.
Once seemingly untouchable, the gang has faced setbacks in recent years, with members arrested in a number of other countries, including France, Greece, Italy and Japan, as well as Switzerland.
The gang was given its name after British detectives found a diamond ring hidden in a jar of face cream, echoing an incident in Peter Sellers’ 1963 comedy The Pink Panther.
• This article was amended on 5 November 2015. An earlier version described Las Palmas as “the capital of the archipelago”. In fact that city – in full Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – is one of two co-capitals of the Canary Islands, the other being Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Burglars raided property tycoon's north London mansion and got away with his £500,000 vintage watch collection
- Sir John Ritblat kept £500,000 collection of watches at Regent Park home
- Stolen watches include Rolex, Patek Philippe and Jaeger-LeCoultre models
- Police released CCTV images of the two suspects appealing for witnesses
- Magnate, who wasn't home during the theft, is worth an estimated £180m
Monaco gives go-ahead to million-dollar art fraud trial
Art masterpieces worth €15m stolen from gallery in Italy
Three men dressed in black entered the Castelvecchio museum in northern Italy at the evening change of guard on Thursday, tying up and gagging the site’s security officer and a cashier before taking the paintings.
Their haul included Portrait of a Lady by Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens and Male Portrait by Venetian artist Tintoretto, as well as works by Pisanello, Jacopo Bellini, Giovanni Francesco Caroto and Hans de Jode.
The museum told art investigators the works were worth an estimated €15m (£10.5m), adding that it was likely that the job had been masterminded by a private collector.
“Someone sent them, they were skilled, they knew exactly where they were going,” mayor Flavio Tosi said, adding that 11 of the stolen paintings had been masterpieces while others were more minor works.
Council spokesman Roberto Bolis said the museum had 24-hour security, but the robbery had been planned so that the thieves arrived after the building emptied but before the alarms had been activated. “We don’t yet know if they were armed, or whether they took the security officer’s weapon,” he said, adding that the guard and cashier were in shock and were being debriefed by investigators.
“They tied up the security officer as well and took his keys so they could get away in his car,” he said. One of the men watched over the hostages while the other two raided the exhibition rooms. “It was only once they were able to untie themselves that the alarm was raised,” Bolis added.
Footage from the 48 cameras installed in and around the premises has been handed over to police.
Burglary victims find stolen Rolex watch listed on websiteWICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) — Jenny and Dave Siggins nearly gave up on ever seeing any of their jewelry and an expensive Rolex watch again taken in a home burglary nearly ten years ago.
But then Thursday evening, Jenny does another web search for the Rolex watch.
She says, "I had this feeling to go online and look."
Of all places, she says, the watch comes up on Christie's Art Auction website.
"There it was. Christie's of New York, of all places. Like the auction house."
Dave says he received the watch from his former employer Big Dog Motorcycles. He says the company gave it to him for ten year's of service in May, 2006.
The website's photo shows a close up of the watch sitting on Big Dog Motorcycles purchase receipt from Barrier's Jewelry in Wichita. Christie's listing details say the watch has Dave Siggins name engraved on the watch.
Dave says, "We're just absolutely stunned that we're looking at this watch on the website. We're, you know, hopeful that there's something we can do."
Something, he says, they can do to get the watch back or get compensated.
The auction's listing says the watch sold for nearly $92,000.
The Siggins filed a case report with the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office after the burglary. A Sheriff's spokesman says the statute of limitations has ended on pursuing a criminal case but says the Siggins could pursue a civil case.
The Siggins have contacted Christie's Auction but haven't heard back from their legal department. KAKE TV has also reached out to Christie's but haven't heard back.
We remember the biggest art heist of Palm Beach County history
Fifty years ago, thieves raided the Norton Museum in what is the county’s most brazen art robbery.Editor’s Note: This is probably an anniversary the Norton Museum would prefer to forget.
On this date 50 years ago, the museum was the center of an outrageous art theft. Call it The Norton Affair. It’s a fascinating story of culture and thievery, featuring insurance investigators, the FBI, mysterious phone calls and a character with the delicious name of Odin Eichelberger.
Did they catch the crooks? Was the art ever recovered? From our story in 2004, we’ll let the Post’s former art writer Gary Schwan tell you the tale …
A decent art theft should display the same creativity as the works being swiped.
Both panache and politesse were evident in Palm Beach County’s biggest art caper — the Nov. 23, 1965 theft from the Norton Museum of Art of priceless Oriental jade objects, and a pile of antique jewelry that belonged to the first wife of the museum’s late founder Ralph Norton.
Stolen art is always priceless to the press, at least in the first edition. The magic figure of a million dollars was tossed around in headlines. It was finally agreed the 100 jade objects were worth about $600,000; the jewelry about $35,000.
No small sums, of course. But it was enough to return the national spotlight to this area, which hadn’t seen this much attention since the Winter White House in Palm Beach was shuttered after the assassination of President Kennedy.
The Norton Affair began shortly after 2 a.m. on Nov. 23. The press reported that up to four men tiptoed through a construction area and gained entrance to the museum through a back door. (By knocking?)
They were greeted by Odin Eichelberger, the museum’s lone caretaker/night watchman. Rather, they greeted Odin by slipping some cloth over his head, and telling him to stay put while they selected a few baubles from the museum showcases.
On their way out, the cool thieves tied up Odin, but not before spreading some newspapers on the floor so he wouldn’t get too dirty. Ah, gentlemen!
Then-museum director Robert Hunter got a phone call from police in the early morning hours.
“I went flying down there and talked my way into the building,” Hunter, who died in 2011, recalled. “They busted glass and made an awful mess. I just looked around and went home. It was at least a month before we heard anything more.”
Looking back, it’s telling that the thieves ignored fine paintings by well-known artists in favor of small objects that could be easily fenced. This doesn’t seem the M.O. of amateur mooks who might swipe whatever they could lay hands on. Professional knaves would load up on booty that could be easily unloaded.
Yet the goods weren’t unloaded. The FBI was called in, and a $10,000 reward posted. A Miami insurance executive named Richard Andrews was also on the scent, presumably contacting underworld types that he had the unfortunate honor to deal with over the years.
Months passed, filled with rumors. There was a mysterious phone call to the widow of the man who sold the jade to museum founder Ralph Norton, and a complaint from Andrews about being tailed by a creepy white car. Things are getting a little spooky, he told reporters.
Finally, in February, four months after the heist, the case cracked open like a museum’s glass case. The Feds found the loot down south in the garage of a Hollywood residence owned by one bewildered fellow named Edward Bruce. He was quickly cleared. Seems he had rented the garage to some nice folks, and assumed the trailer that contained the art was filled with household goods. He couldn’t remember the folks very well.
All but three of the stolen jade pieces were found in Hollywood. Another work was later recovered in Washington, D.C. The jewelry simply went missing for good.
“We actually got more pieces returned than were stolen,” Hunter joked, noting that several objects were broken. The Hollywood cache also inexplicably included a model of a Spanish galleon. “They asked me If I wanted it, and I said no. It wasn’t mine.”
No arrests were made, although Hunter said an FBI agent told him the bureau was pretty sure it knew whodunit.
“They told me they were convinced the theft was a buy-steal, but the buyer welshed on the thieves,” Hunter said. In other words, a buyer from the Bahamas had agreed to pay for the Norton’s jade objects, which was why the crooks went straight for them. But he backed out of the deal, and the burglars had some very hot property on their hands.
Hunter also recalled that after the jade was recovered, the Norton received a phone call offering to return the jewelry for a price, but the board wasn’t interested because the objects, while expensive, weren’t really art.
How was the jade tracked down? The Feds apparently weren’t talking, and Andrews would only say he received a few tips from people working on the case. Hunter said insurance investigators heard a few squeaks on the street.
It’s possible the insurance company simply paid to get the work back, although that’s something neither the museum nor their insurers would want made public.
The good news is that some of those stolen jades can still be seen today at the museum, under glass, but no doubt protected by more security than poor Odin Eichelberger was able to supply back in 1965.
Cuban Art Thief Suspect Arrested in Greece
Philippine website to seek tips on missing Marcos paintings
The family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos allegedly amassed billions of dollars' worth of ill-gotten wealth. His widow, now 86 and a member of Congress, became notorious for excesses, symbolized by her huge shoe collection and staggering jewelry collection.
Experts from Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses are concluding Friday a week-long appraisal of jewelry seized after the family fled to Hawaii in 1986, following a popular revolt that ended Marcos' two-decade rule.
Andrew de Castro, a member of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which is tasked with recovering the ill-gotten wealth, said that the agency would launch a website in a week or two to seek public assistance in locating at least 200 paintings.
A former head of the agency, Andres Bautista, last year said that the missing paintings include works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso and Michelangelo. He said the list was compiled from various documents after the Marcoses fled, and had been registered with the Art Loss Register, the world's largest private database of lost and stolen art.
Among the paintings not on the list is one by Claude Monet that was sold for $32 million in 2010 by former Marcos aide Vilma Bautista. She was sentenced last year by a New York court to up to six years' imprisonment for conspiring to sell the art work and tax fraud.
De Castro said Friday that litigation was ongoing on the Philippine government's lawsuit in New York to recover the proceeds from the sale and three other art works she attempted to sell.
Journalists were again allowed Friday to view and take pictures of the jewelry being appraised, including a rare, barrel-shaped pink Indian diamond that a Christie's representative said was worth at least $5 million.
Other jewelry included complete sets of diamond encrusted rubies with a brooch whose single ruby stone is bigger than a dollar coin. A Sotheby's representative said they appear to be Burmese rubies. There were also diamond-studded tiaras, including a Cartier tiara with paisley-shaped design.
The jewelry collection, comprising three sets seized in various locations, was valued at $5 million to $7 million when it was last appraised in 1988 and 1991. But it is likely to have significantly risen in value, De Castro said.