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RJ Insights: The impact of the Hatton Garden heist

Following the reports about the raid in Hatton Garden over the weekend, Ruth Faulkner considers what this could mean for the trade and why the intense media interest in this story could be a very bad thing

When I read the story in The Telegraph on Tuesday morning about the raids in Hatton Garden over the weekend, I made, what some might consider, a rather unorthodox decision not to cover it online for Retail Jeweller.

My reason for this wasn’t because I didn’t think the story was newsworthy or important. On the contrary, this is such an important story for the trade, I felt it would be far better to wait until there is more information available in order to give a complete and accurate picture of what happened.

Reports in the national media about the extent of what has been stolen varied wildly, as did the speculation surrounding how exactly the heist was carried out.

Talk of criminals cutting through walls and abseiling down a lift shaft is the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters and, while the police press conference held yesterday did reveal further details about what may have taken place, I thought it best not speculate until the full facts were known.

Equally until there is enough qualified information about what was actually taken, it is also damaging to guess the extent of the losses, causing unnecessary worry and in, some cases, an increased risk. I was therefore reassured yesterday to read a statement from the London Diamond Bourse, taking a similar stance.

One radio report estimated somewhere in the region of £300m in stolen goods which, if wildly inflated from the real figure, sends out a message about the value of goods stored in places like 88-90 Hatton Garden, surely posing further security risks?

Someone I spoke to about this took the view that at least no one was hurt and, in that sense, this type of robbery is far better than holding up a jewellery store at gun point and causing physical and mental harm and distress.

While it is indeed very fortunate that no one was hurt, this crime is no less damaging, not just for those who may have had things stolen but for Hatton Garden, the industry’s heartland, and the trade as a whole.

Contrary to widely held beliefs by the public that everyone who works in the jewellery industry is loaded and can afford to suffer these kind of losses, what has happened in Hatton Garden could have a huge impact on many people’s livelihoods with some people possibly put out of business.

Moreover, Hatton Garden has long-been the heartland of the UK jewellery industry and it is an area that is currently part of a Business Improvement District (BID) project to rejuvenate it.

It is imperative that what happened over the weekend doesn’t detract from this or make people fearful of visiting Hatton Garden or doing business there in future.

Inaccurate reports about people moving their goods to other vaults in Hatton Garden are also extremely dangerous, especially when they are factually untrue and could pose further security threats.

Just the other day I was speaking with someone from the industry and the two of us were lamenting the fact that the jewellery industry doesn’t get enough attention on a national level for all of the great things we do as a trade.  

It is unfortunate therefore, that the industry has now been thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Having worked on a tough news desk in a previous role, I understand the need for a “good story” better than most.

However, as a trade magazine, we have a duty to represent the best interests of the trade and in this case the best thing for the trade is to work together to guarantee that what happened over the weekend doesn’t happen again whilst also ensuring that this doesn’t have any lasting negative impact on the industry or the perceptions of the industry.

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