Nine men, several of them pensioners, are in custody being questioned by Flying Squad detectives in a major breakthrough in the inquiry to track down the Hatton Garden jewellery safe deposit burglars.
Detective Superintendent Craig Turner, Head of the Flying Squad, has appealed for information to trace a white van seen in the area at the time of the raid.
Det Supt Turner said:
I would like to make an appeal for information around a van that was seen in
the area of Hatton Garden over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
It was a white Transit van, registration DU53 VNG, which was caught on CCTV near Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd.
We have had the CCTV from an early stage of the investigation but we are now releasing the registration of the van.
Did you see anyone loading or unloading a white van in the Hatton Garden area over the Easter bank holiday?
So far we haven’t managed to recover the van yet. Have you seen a van matching this description and registration since the burglary in Hatton Garden or do you know where it is now?
If you have seen it or have any information that would help our inquiry please call the Flying Squad on 020 8785 8655 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.
The fact that three of the men are aged 76, 74 and 67 has sparked the imagination of this morning’s tabloid newspapers.
The Sun’s headline is ‘Diamond Wheezers.’
The Daily Mirror’s angle is ‘Diamond geezers.’
The fact remains the men in custody have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle and under the terms of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 they are entitled to have a fair trial if charged and not be subject to media coverage that is ‘a substantial risk of serious prejudice to the administration of justice.’
A house in Dartford, Kent is the focus of a major police search and forensic investigation.
The Metropolitan police are pioneering the new dimensions of social media asymmetric publication in their distribution of news and appeals for assistance from media and public.
The news of the arrests was first released on the Met Police Twitter account that was immediately retweeted by londonmultimedianews.com yesterday.
Flying Squad arrest 7 men in connection with #HattonGarden burglary—
Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) May 19, 2015
And the detective in charge of the Flying Squad Det Supt Craig Turner appealing for information about the van used the new smartphone app ‘Periscope’ to disseminate the his request for information about the white van that is seen to be a key factor in the continuing enquiry.
The Periscope footage was them uploaded to the Met Police YouTube platform.
Flying squad detectives have been working literally night and day since the dramatic burglary at 88-90 Hatton Garden during the Easter weekend.
They have been slighted by public commentary celebrating and glorifying the raid with a perceived lack of understanding of the tragedy to Hatton Garden jewellery trade victims who lost their assets when not covered by insurance.
The suggestion that Metropolitan Police detectives had been outsmarted and were incapable for pursuing a professional and effective inquiry prompted the following comment by Commander Peter Spindler:
At times we have been portrayed as if we’ve 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 for the victims of this callous crime. They have worked tirelessly and relentlessly. They have put their lives on hold over the last six or seven weeks to make sure that justice is served and they have exemplified the finest attributes of Scotland Yard detectives. We will be releasing further information throughout the next 24 hours.