OPINION: Hatton Garden raiders sentenced, but where does this episode leave the industry?

BRITAIN-CRIME-JEWELLERY

The lead-up to the Hatton Garden six’s sentencing left many in the industry and beyond waiting with baited breath to hear the fate of the men convicted.

Whilst the case has been receiving both national and international coverage, mainly because of the Hollywood blockbuster-style nature of the raid itself, the focus within the industry has turned to the impact the robbery has had on jewellers and jewellery businesses in Hatton Garden.

Many of those who lost valuables taken from 72 safety deposit boxes over Easter weekend last year were small businesses; dealers that used it to keep expensive stock or, more pertinently, those that used it because they didn’t have insurance for their items.

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Speaking to the Guardian earlier this year, loss adjustor from Marchant and Marchant Limited, Rick Marchant said: “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 some hadn’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.”

The chances of uninsured victims recovering their losses has been deemed “remote”, with their only hope being evidence of negligence.

One victim of the raid exclaimed that he could have ensured his jewellery with ease, and at a relatively small expense, but that you simply wouldn’t normally need to insure when you put things into a safe-deposit box.

Other jewellers impacted by the crime, meanwhile, have expressed their devastation at losing a lifetime of work and stock that they have built over many years in the industry.

Yesterday the sentences were released as follows; John “Kenny” Collins, Daniel  Jones, Tony Perkins and Brian Reader, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary last September.

Collins, 75, was jailed for seven years, as were Daniel Jones, 61, and Terry Perkins, 67. Reader, 77, was not well enough to attend court after suffering a second stroke, and is due to be sentenced later.

Carl Wood, 59, William Lincoln, 60 and Hugh Doyle, 48 were previously convicted of involvement in the heist, which took place over the Easter weekend last year. Wood received six years and Lincoln received seven. Hugh Doyle was sentenced to 21 months, suspended for two years.

While the sentences draw a line under the robbery, gaining closure for those businesses affected by the Hatton Garden heist will not be as simple. Jewellers lost items worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, even millions in some cases, and, for some, whole livelihoods have been ruined.

It is only natural that this episode, and the magnitude of it, will make many jewellers, especially in trading districts such as Hatton Garden, think carefully about their strategy for securing and storing stock moving forward.

Jewellery sellers that use such safety deposit services will understandably be reviewing the measures they can take to ensure they are protected and the potential scenarios they face if ever security is breached. I am sure that those who have given insurance a wide berth up to now will be considering revisiting their decision, and those who do have it will undoubtedly be checking the terms and conditions a little more thoroughly.

Will the British jewellery industry ever see a raid as daring as this again? It is impossible to say. But as the men who orchestrated it begin their time behind bars, the industry can at least learn lessons from it.

 

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