Detectives hunting the gang behind London's Hatton Garden jewellery heist have arrested seven suspects - including a 76-year-old man - the Metropolitan Police said today.
Twelve addresses in the London and Kent area were raided by about 200 police officers about 10.30am and seven men, aged 48 to 76, were arrested for conspiracy to burgle.
The men were aged, 48, 50, 58, 59, 67, 74 and 76. Four were arrested in Enfield, one in east London and two in Dartford. The men have all been taken to a London police station while searches of the raided addresses continue.
Police said a number of "large bags containing significant amounts of high value property" had been recovered from one address. Officers are "confident" these are items stolen during the burglary which involved a gang of thieves ransacking 72 safety deposit boxes over Easter Weekend.
A Met Police spokesman said: "Over the last six weeks Scotland Yard's Flying Squad has worked relentlessly, supported by officers from covert policing and major crime commands, to track down those responsible, and recover what was taken.
"An intense investigation has been undertaken to ensure the victims, the individual box owners, the small businesses and the wider Hatton Garden community can get justice."
Police today also acknowledged that their systems had failed when they chose not to respond to an intruder alarm that was set off at the Hatton Garden jewellers shortly after midnight on the Friday. A call was received by the force's Computer Aided Dispatch system from the security company but no police response was deemed necessary.
The Met said: "On this occasion our call handling system and procedures for working with the alarm monitoring companies were not followed.
"Our normal procedures would have resulted in police attending the scene, and we apologise that this did not happen.
"In this case, the owners had been notified by the alarm company and a security guard attended the building but saw nothing more than our officers would have done had they been deployed."
Police were now "working closely" with the alarm industry to improve call handling and response processes "to ensure
nothing like this happens again", the statement said.
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The Met added that a more detailed investigation into the "defeat of the alarm system" is ongoing and the lessons learned would be shared with the business community.
Met Commander Spindler said those investigating the crime had been "portrayed as if we've acted like 'Keystone Cops', but that was not the case. The officers involved, he said, had acted in "the finest traditions of Scotland Yard" and had done their utmost to "bring justice for the victims of this callous crime".
He added: "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.”
Earlier this month a loss adjustor working with the victims of the heist said "their livelihoods have gone" as a result of the burglary.
Rick Marchant of Marchant and Marchant Limited said those who had valuables stolen were "mainly small businesses".
He told the BBC he was dealing with seven clients who had lost items worth up to £2 million in the burglary at Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Company, in London's famous jewellery quarter. He said the heist had "ruined" their lives.
Police had offered a £20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of all those involved and have released images of the Hilti DD350 drill that was used to bore a hole 50cm deep, 25cm high, and 45cm into the vault wall.
Mr Marchant said: "These aren't extremely wealthy people, for a lot of them their livelihoods have gone. All of us might be forgiven for thinking how audacious, how clever, but what (the gang has) done is ruin the lives of many people within the Hatton Garden jewellery quarter.
"I have been told by individuals I have interviewed that they have had friends and colleagues who work in the quarter with them, grown men, hardened dealers, in sobs - (they) don't know what to do because of course some haven't insured at all.
"Their view was it is in a safety deposit box - the key word is safety - it should be OK and of course they have lost everything."
Mr Marchant added the chances of uninsured victims recovering their losses was "pretty remote" and their "only hope" was there was evidence of negligence.