The Old Man's Gang - How Did A Group Of Pensioners Pull Of One Of The Biggest Heist In England's History?!
Even though this story sounds like something straight from a Hollywood script, it really happened! A group of elderly men carried out the biggest robbery in the history of England! Their plan of action was so precise that it surprised everyone working on the case! When they were looking for criminals who robbed the vault of valuables estimated at 200 million pounds, no one expected that the perpetrators would turn out to be people of retirement age. The oldest of them and also one of the leaders of the group was 76 years old at the time of the historic heist! No wonder they were dubbed by the press as the Retired Gang, Grandpa Gang, or Old Man Gang. Defense counsel for one of the defendants suggested to the court that the footage of the Hatton Garden burglary could have been titled "Bad Grandpas". When many of their peers were already living in nursing homes, they excitedly pulled off one last heist. How did they manage to pull off such an audacious robbery? There are many surprising twists and turns in this story, and the thieves had a very busy Easter 2015! What was the fate of the elderly gentlemen and how much of the stolen valuables were recovered?
It all started when one of the older men while drinking in a pub, started complaining to his friends that he needed extra cash. And so an idea was born, which they decided to put into practice. Their target was the Hatton Garden Safe Depository in London, an underground vault with valuables worth billions. This building is located in the center of the jewelry district, which is famous for selling diamonds and all kinds of precious valuables. The men prepared for the robbery meticulously for 3 years. The long Easter weekend of 2015 - the date on which they carried out the heist was not a bit coincidental. Both the building they decided to rob and others in the neighborhood were closed. In addition to providing them with peace and quiet and plenty of time to operate, the holiday also provided them with more loot! The vault was full and contained more valuables than on a daily basis, as customers from the surrounding jewelry stores and the jewelers themselves had deposited their goods. The caches were filled not only with cash and gold but also precious ancestral jewelry and supplies of precious stones collected by generations of craftsmen.
A perfect plan and a robbery just like in the movie
If anyone thought that the perfect plan, improbable luck, and plot twists in heist productions were overkill, they were wrong. As the story of the Retired Gang shows, life writes the best scripts! The robbers were better than the characters in the 2001 movie "Ocean's Eleven" and had a meticulously prepared plan, like the Professor and his group from the TV series "Money Heist". The real events are also reminiscent of another film, "Going in Style", starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin. This picture, just like the hit "Money Heist", was made after real events and it seems that the robbery of the Hatton Garden vault may have been an inspiration for the creators...
No one realized…
It wasn't until life returned to its normal rhythm after the holidays and people returned to their daily routines that it was realized that a massive theft had occurred in the Hatton Garden building. When the London police were notified at 8:10 a.m. on Tuesday after Easter Monday, officers found nothing but clutter, dust, and debris in the vault. Losses were difficult to estimate at first, but the robbery was quickly hailed as the burglary of the century and the largest theft ever committed in England.
Stealing in no hurry
From the outside, there were no signs of a break-in, and no one was hurt. The criminals, dressed in construction helmets and reflective vests, used the elevator shaft of a nearby building to carry out their plan. They brought with them large trash cans and various boxes in which they presumably hid equipment and later carried out valuables in them. The investigation revealed that a red-haired man, who has not been identified and is at large, let them in through the fire door. He was to be paid £20,000 for doing the thieves a favor. They then descended the ropes into the basement and began drilling through a reinforced concrete wall over half a meter high into the vault. Interestingly, they failed to break through on their first attempt because the augers they had were not up to the task. They could, however, proceed without any restraint, because they had time. So they came back the next day with better equipment and finished what they started.
One of the alarms went off…
Before they could get to the caches of valuables, they still had to overcome an 18-inch metal door, among other things. And of course, there was also an alarm system to neutralize! It's not clear how the gang of retirees managed to disarm the state-of-the-art security system, but at one point they scored a stumble. One of the alarms tripped and momentarily activated, but luck favored the robbers... As hard as it is to believe, the security guard didn't do his job properly! The guard who was on duty at the time went down to the basement of the building, looked through the door but saw nothing suspicious, and the police did not send a patrol. The thieves were able to continue their plan until they finally successfully emptied the lockers.
Stolen valuables worth millions of pounds
Initially, when various media outlets reported on the case, which was still fresh, news reports said the thieves had ransacked as many as several hundred lockers. However, later police reports were unanimous in stating that the men had emptied just over 70 of the 999 lockers. They got their hands on valuables officially valued by police at around £15 million.
However, it is estimated that the true losses are much, much more! The full amount of losses is another mystery of this robbery - it will never be known.
A large number of robbed Hatton Garden customers were unwilling to share information with the police about what they had stored in their lockers and how much it was worth. The fact that they were not interested in declaring their lost property translates into a lack of full cooperation with justice. The case was similar to the insurance of the caches. Although some of them were insured, many owners decided not to take out a policy because they did not want anyone to know what they were storing. The amount of stolen valuables is not known by the owners of the robbed vault, because, as it turns out, customers pay not only for security but also for discretion. According to Scotland Yard, the total value of the loot taken by the bandits may reach over 200 million pounds! And this places the robbery of the Gang of Old Men in the first place among all thefts that have occurred in England.
No one was expecting this!
The perpetrators were caught after time, but it didn't happen right away. April 2015, saw a precariously robbed vault, multi-million dollar losses, and thieves who quietly left the place they had ransacked. They didn't leave much of a trail, at the time the press was decrying that the police might never track them down. The hard drive on which video surveillance images were recorded disappeared with them. The robbery hailed as the robbery of the century was brought to the attention of the police, who carried out an extensive operation. The thieves' identities were finally established and the suspects' houses were reached, among others, thanks to tracking a white Mercedes which had been used by four of them to escape from the crime scene. However, no one expected that the robbery was committed by men of retirement and pre-retirement age! According to available information, when the suspects were arrested, they were found with, among other things, metal remelting equipment, diamond testing equipment, and... a textbook "Forensics for Dummies”. And they learned how to use various tools by watching YouTube videos.
Gang of Old Men
Between 2015 and 2016, people were found guilty of robbery or suspected of cooperating with the robbers. Seven people heard charges at the time. One of the leaders of the group, Brian Reader, was 76 years old at the time of the crime and arrived at the scene of the robbery by bus, taking advantage of the free ticket available to pensioners. In addition to him, the gang's leaders were John Collins, 75, at the time, 67, Terry Perkins, and Daniel Jones, 58. They pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit burglary. Two others were also convicted under the same section, they were 60-year-old William Lincoln and 58-year-old Carl Wood. The men were sentenced to sentences ranging from 6 to 7 years in prison. On the other hand, 48-year-old Hugh Doyle was found guilty of concealing loot and was sentenced to 21 months suspended for two years. An eighth man, Jon Harbinson, was acquitted and released. The men were ordered to pay a total of tens of millions in restitution, otherwise, their sentences were to extend for several additional years.
What about the recovery of stolen loot?
One of them, Perkins died of a heart attack while behind bars in 2015, but the other men are still serving their sentences. Services working on the case managed to find only a portion of the stolen goods in the perpetrators' homes. Some valuables were also reportedly hidden under tombstones in a north London cemetery. According to information, only ⅓ of the 15 million in losses that were officially reported by the victims were recovered, and police worked hard to return the recovered items to their rightful owners.
Many unanswered questions
There are still many unanswered questions in this story. Not only the actual amount of money the thieves managed to take and how the older men had knowledge of the modern security system remain a mystery. It is also unknown, for example, how they knew the layout of the rooms and the habits of the employees. One thing is certain, their sophisticated, meticulously planned crime surprised even the most experienced police officers.
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