THE first images of the vaults beneath London's famous jewellery quarter raided by sophisticated thieves over Easter have been released.
Photos released by police show huge holes drilled through a two-feet thick concrete wall protecting diamonds and gold at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd.
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The vault was covered in dust and littered with debris, discarded safety deposit boxes and numerous power tools including an angle grinder, concrete drills and crowbars. Police were greeted by chaotic scenes with discarded safety deposit boxes and power tools littering the vault Police were greeted by chaotic scenes with discarded safety deposit boxes and power tools littering the vault
Scotland Yard described the gang behind the multi-million pound crime as "highly audacious" after they escaped with wheelie bins full of the stolen jewels.
The thieves disabled a lift to climb down to the basement, where they used a heavy duty drill to bore holes through the vault wall and access 70 safety deposit boxes in an operation lasting three nights.
Suspects caught on CCTV were disguised as construction and gas workers and could be seen casually entering and leaving the building with tools and machinery.
They timed their raid over the Easter bank holiday, entering after the premises emptied on Thursday night and leaving on Easter Sunday morning.
The Metropolitan Police were slammed as "utterly incompetent" after it emerged that an alarm going off in Hatton Garden was ignored in the early hours of Good Friday.
As thieves carried out their raid, an alert was automatically sent to Scotland Yard but police did not respond because a computer system graded it as "no response required".
A spokesperson for the force said no arrests have yet been made but "methodical forensic examination" of the scene had resulted in the recovery of around 400 pieces of evidence.
It will be used for DNA profiling, fingerprinting and continuing investigations to track down the culprits.
Thousands of hours of CCTV footage are being analysed and forensic photographers have mapped out the crime scene.
Detective Superintendent Craig Turner, head of the Flying Squad, said:
"The hours of forensic work and inquiries have been vital in order to ensure we are able to exploit all investigative opportunities to their fullest extent and assist us in identifying those individuals responsible.
"We appreciate that this situation has been frustrating for those affected by this crime and thank those individuals for their ongoing patience and support."
Police are still struggling to identify the burglary victims and out of the 72 boxes opened, only six owners have been contacted.
An internal review into the response to the Good Friday alarm continues and a spokesperson said it was "too early to say" whether responding to it would have changed the outcome of the burglary.
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