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"Painstaking" Investigation Underway After "Huge" London Jewel Heist

Thieves reportedly broke into Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd., in the heart of the city's jewellery district, by abseiling down a lift shaft during the Easter holiday.

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Police are investigating a "huge" Easter weekend robbery on London's jewellery district, in which thieves broke into some 70 safe deposit boxes during an audacious heist, Scotland Yard said.

A police forensics officer enters the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company, London, April 7.
Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire/Press Association Images

A police forensics officer enters the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company, London, April 7.

The break-in occurred at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. on the Good Friday holiday, but police were not alerted until after the Easter break on Tuesday, The Times reported.

It is feared that the thieves escaped with millions of pounds worth of jewels, and a number of people with valuables in the vault have revealed they are uninsured, The Guardian said.

Multiple reports have said the thieves are likely to have abseiled into the vaults down a lift shaft.

Officers said heavy cutting equipment had been used to get into the boxes, the BBC reported.

A source at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. told The Times that a staff member had performed security checks when the alarm sounded on Friday, but did not see a problem as the building's back doors appeared to be secure. The Times said the main caretaker of the building had not been informed of the alarm.

Norman Bean, who has a diamond ring and bracelets in one of the vaults, said: "I came down and spoke to a security guard today. He said he came on Friday, the alarm was going off," LBC reported.

"They could have been there all weekend, who knows? It's a disgrace, it's like something out of a film. I can't believe it could happen," he added.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said the forensic examination would "painstaking":

Detectives and scenes of crime officers are currently carrying out a forensic examination of the scene at Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd. This is a slow and painstaking process involving forensic examination, photographing the scene and recovering exhibits in meticulous detail in order to preserve the evidence. Officers anticipate this process to take approximately two days.

At this stage it is believed that approximately 60 - 70 safety deposit boxes were opened during the burglary. Officers are working closely with Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd to establish the identities of those affected. Police will be contacting victims directly as and when they are identified.

Thelma West, a London and Antwerp-based gemologist, said the loss is likely to be "huge," and that the area is likely to have been deserted due to the Easter and pesach holidays.

Robbery at one of the biggest safe deposits in Hatton Garden over the Easter weekend. The loss is HUGE #diamonds

A lot of jewellers & dealers put their stock in safe deposits over holiday periods. Easter & pesach meant very quiet Hatton Garden #diamonds

Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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