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Hatton Garden crime scene to become museum exhibit

One of London’s most famous – and heaviest – crime scenes is set to become a museum exhibit.

The jewel vault in Hatton Garden which was at the centre of a £14m robbery is to be relocated and turned into a tourist attraction.

And the story of how covert surveillance helped convict the gang will be a central part of the story.

The underground room, will be relocated a few miles away by a team from the Museum of London at Smithfield Market - complete with the 72 jemmied safety deposit boxes and the 50cm thick concrete wall with the hole drilled by the gang.

Criminal history was made over the Easter weekend of 2015 when a team of elderly offenders, later nicknamed Dad’s Army, carried out the raid.

Gems and jewellery worth millions were taken, many in bin liners, but only £4.5m have ever been recovered.

The Museum of London’s £100,000 project has been made possible thanks to its donation by David Pearl, the property tycoon who bought the lease on the building in the capital’s jewellery district after the vault owners closed it following the raid.

The business mogul paid £200,000 and made clear he wanted the original, damaged vault boxes included.

His company revealed why he bought it: “David’s always looked for meaningful ways to pursue his three biggest passions: the potential of young people, history, and London (his first love).

“The vault, then, gives him a new way to pursue his avid interest in history. Even before this venture came along he’s been helping to save English Heritage’s popular Blue Plaque scheme, which commemorates sites around London where famous people lived after government funding was cut. He pledged £80,000 to help save the scheme, not to mention travelled around the capital drumming up support and funding.”

Painstaking work will involve preserving every detail, including the thick iron door.

The room remains as it was left by the gang who disabled an alarm system and gained access through a lift shaft before drilling a slim hole through which two of them gained entry.

Six men – the youngest of whom was 60 – were jailed. Included was Brian Reader, 76, the ring leader who used his bus pass to travel to the vault.

The crime has also been the subject of three films, countless internet articles, TV programmes and even a radio play.

Even after the elusive last suspect who had been referred to by the other gang members as Basil was caught, people with links to the criminal underworld have claimed more people were involved.

Electronics expert Michael Seed, now 61, was sentenced to 10 years in March 2019 and given an asset confiscation order of £6m - later reduced by £318,386.

Museum Director Sharon Ament said: “It’s not about glamourising what happened, it is evidence of something that is very much part of London’s history.

“It will allow visitors to get a fascinating insight into how these people did it. They were caught between an old world of crime and a new world of detection and they weren’t savvy enough to understand how they could be caught. We are still looking into the feasibility of it but it will be one of the most extraordinary exhibits ever seen in a museum. It tells a really powerful story.”

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