Thankfully, with modern technology and advancements in policing, it’s rare for a big scale robbery to take place in the UK today. However, the recent Hatton Garden raid shows that they do still happen – and lapses in security may be to blame.
At this preliminary period after the raid there is a lot of speculation surrounding how exactly the ‘gang of burglars’ got away with the break-in lasting approximately four days, in plain view of CCTV and in a building with an extensive alarm system.
However, it’s clear that there are a few lessons to be learnt even at this stage in investigations.
With approximately 70 safety deposit boxes stolen in the raid, and the stolen jewels now expected to be abroad, the Hatton Gardens incident is likely to be an unfurling story of security failures as detectives dig deeper into how it was carried out.
As security experts at Farsight, we’ve been following the incident with keen interest. We’ve analysed where failures may have occurred and how they could, potentially, have been avoided:
1. CCTV without external monitoring
The press has repeatedly alluded to the suggestion that the CCTV at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd was not monitored externally. In fact, it’s been reported that there is limited CCTV footage of the theft because the burglars stole the system’s hard drive.
If these suggestions are correct, there could have been a simple and straightforward preventative measure to the incident: remote CCTV monitoring.
Had the safe deposit building’s CCTV been remotely monitored as soon as an alarm was raised expert security operators would have been able to monitor the CCTV live. Our experts at Farsight would have viewed the site using multiple CCTV cameras until the cause of the alarm was identified.
In addition, with remotely monitored CCTV in place, the remote monitoring station would have access to the CCTV footage – and it wouldn’t be left vulnerable to being stolen on or nearby the site.
2. False Alarms
One of the biggest mysteries at this point in the investigation is why police did not respond to an alarm on the Friday morning.
So far the evidence shows that the police did receive a call from the remote monitoring station at 00:21 – hence, the site’s intruder alarm system was remotely monitored but, as mentioned before, their CCTV was not.
However, the press reported that there was no police response to the alarm. For those familiar with the security industry, the lack of police response will be indicative of repeated false alarms having occurred at the site.
A false alarm is when the police are called by the remote monitoring station because an intruder alarm has been triggered but when the police arrive, there is no evidence of a break-in.
If three or more false alarms occur, the police force will remove police response and delete the URN for the site (the URN is used by the remote monitoring station to notify the police on what site an alarm has been raised at). If this does happen the police will issue a letter to the site explaining the action taken.
The only way to get back the URN and police response is for a security installer to fully test and basically re-commission the site.
It is possible that, in the Hatton Garden raid, police had stopped responding to alarms from the site following a number of false alarms.
3. An insider job
Some elements of the break in suggest an ‘inside job’ at Hatton Gardens. Many people had keys to the building and the fact they knew the CCTV hard drive was stored nearby suggests there was knowledge of how the security systems worked.
You can find out more about protecting sites from an inside job in our blog: Security from the inside, out: Focussing your security on outsider threats isn’t enough
4. Connectivity issues
There has been some speculation over whether the Hatton Gardens raid was made possible by power cuts in the area days beforehand. As a result, it’s thought these power cuts may have affected the connectivity with CCTV systems.
However, had there been remote monitoring in place – including connectivity monitoring – these issues would have been flagged up prior to the incident and action could have been taken to restore connectivity.
At Farsight, our eCare connectivity monitoring checks the connection with compatible devices and sites. If there is a loss of connection, it will be flagged up and security system maintenance teams can be notified.
Clearly, there is still a lot to be revealed about how the Hatton Garden raid managed to take place. But even at this stage there are some clear flaws in the security, which may have helped the burglars succeed in their plan. Although this is just speculation, the case serves as a good reference point for some essential remote monitoring and security procedures – that simply cannot be compromised on.
Interested in finding out how to optimise your security, or think your security might be suffering from some of the weaknesses identified here? Click here to get in touch with the Farsight security experts today.