Crime prevention expert talks deposit box security

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Security expert and consultant for SPC Support UK Ltd, Hilaire O’Shea, has described some of the standard practices involved in safety deposit box security to Professional Jeweller in the wake of the recent Hatton Garden raid.

O’Shea has 20 years’ experience working in security and crime prevention tactics for retail and banking CIT and ATM systems. He has previously given talks at International Jewellery London, alongside Safergems and representatives of the Met Police Flying Squad.

He explains: “I worked for Fichet-Bauche in the 1990s and they were one of three companies supplying safe deposit boxes (Chubb and Rosengrens being the other two). All three could supply anything from one bank of boxes to a complete turn-key vault project. All three worked to the same basic security principles – boxes are linked together electronically so that if (say) three or more boxes are all open at the same time a silent alarm is sent to the police via a central station.”

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O’Shea also explains that microphones are more commonly used that CCTV cameras in safety deposit vaults – ensuring customers get ample privacy when storing and removing their belongings, while still being protected.

He adds: “Because clients do not want CCTV looking at them in the vault, one or more microphones can be embedded in the vault so the central station staff can verify an alarm signal before calling the police.”

The issue of CCTV has been a contentious one in the recent Hatton Garden raid, with some reports suggesting the assailants stole a hard drive containing footage from the scene. However, in a press conference yesterday Flying Squad Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson refused to comment on whether or not the CCTV and alarm systems were working at the time of the heist, or whether footage was stolen.

He also declined to comment on whether alarms at Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd activated on Friday April 3 and that police had been called.

O’Shea also expressed his surprise that CCTV was being used at the facility, arguing an internet-based live streaming security systems is the more sophisticated and updated choice.

For security professionals, safety deposit box silent alarms are essential to protect staff, who could be kidnapped, injured or harmed in the process of raising an alarm themselves.

O’Shea added: “The safety of staff is of paramount importance which is why a silent alarm linked directly to the boxes is the most basic and essential component of a safe deposit box system – it eliminates the human component in raising the alarm.”
When asked for his opinions on the raid at Hatton Garden O’Shea said he is “surprised and disappointed that a raid of this nature could occur in this day and age.”

Professional Jeweller continues to attempt to contact Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd., but they remain unavailable for comment.

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