Hatton Garden shuts down after riot warning

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Retailers close stores as police presence is felt along street.

Hatton Garden businesses are shutting up early today as retailers react to rumours that the city’s famous jewellery hub could become a target for those participating in looting and riots throughout the city.

Retailers appeared to be nervous on Hatton Garden when Professional Jeweller walked the street this afternoon and some were posting on Twitter that there was an increased police presence on the street. 

Hatton Garden was quieter than usual and there was a small group of police wandering up and down the road, stopping to talk to passers-by, while shop staff and owners were locking up shops and pulling down shutters as Hatton Garden appeared to be barricading itself ahead of possible violence today.

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After last night’s rioting in Birmingham and the decision today to close the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter at 1pm today, it appears that Hatton Garden followed suit as the UK’s network of jewellers decide it is better to be safe than sorry.

Walking from the Clerkenwell end of Hatton Garden down to Holborn Circus, groups of people – seemingly shop staff unsure of what to do next – stood together talking. One group of men laughed and joked that they now had the afternoon off, while another exchange took place within a group of women who mentioned that retailers should be arming themselves with baseball bats.

A male and female who were part of a group outside retailer Alexander Craig close to the Holborn Circus end of Hatton Garden said they were closing early because of the rioting. “It’s better to be safe than sorry and to have stock than have it all stolen,” said the gentleman.

Asked if Mondays and Tuesdays are typically quiet days, he said it can vary but it is an afternoon – at least – of trading lost for the business.

A few stores were still open, or at least still had jewellery in their windows. Two female members of staff in Davril appeared to be stocktaking, with windows still full of diamond and sapphire jewellery. Holts, which is situated on the opposite side of the road, still had its lights on but the shutters were pulled halfway down and the usually bright and busy window display was bare.

The main feeling along Hatton Garden was one of uncertainty. While local office workers were sat enjoying their lunch outside cafes, one stopped a passing policeman to enquire whether there was trouble at Farringdon station, a short walk away. The policeman reassured him there was not and walked on.

Though it is not certain that Hatton Garden will be affected by the riots, the speed at which the situation is changing across both London and the UK means that jewellers are right to be vigilant, not only for their businesses but for themselves and one another.

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