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Royal Wine Heist

Berry Bros. and Rudd

Thieves make off with £100,000 of wine from the Royal Family’s collection housed at Berry Bros. and Rudd.

The Ultimate Distraction

The world was on baby watch. Which means the Royal Family was even more distracted than the rest of the world. All eyes were on the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital of Paddington in West London or on the bookmakers calculating the odds on names for the Princess of Cambridge. For those interested: Alice is still in the lead, followed closely by Charlotte. The sentimental favorite, Diana, is holding steady at eighth.

That likely isn’t the reason for the heist taking place when it did – as a heist like this requires careful planning and timing, but the irony isn’t lost on the wine world that as everyone was waiting for the arrival of The Princess Of Cambridge, thieves made off with vans of valuable wine. One crate alone was worth £5,000.

How It Happened

Despite thirteen cameras, high tech security and on site security guards, the heist has many asking questions. Workers on site the night of the heist say it was an ordinary night; they heard and saw nothing. Police believe that a hole was cut in the wall of the warehouse and then the wine was transported out by van.

A Royal History

Berry Bros. and Rudd is Britain’s oldest wine merchant. It was established in 1698 and has been the supplier to the Royal Family since King George III. Berry Bros. and Rudd has also had Poet Lord Byron and Pitt The Younger (a former Prime Minister) as customers.

Not The First Hit By Robbers?

While it is early in the investigation, the robbery has many pointing to another. Last month, in the Hatton Gardens section of London, robbers took an estimated £200m in jewels from underground safe deposit boxes housed at Hatton Gardens Safe Deposit Company.

That heist took place during the Easter and Passover holidays and at the time it was being executed there was a fire not too far away. Some have pointed to that fire as a possible diversion although the fire brigade believes it to have been caused by an electrical fault with no signs of arson.

Thieve entered through an elevator shaft and traversed it down to the subfloors where they drilled into the wall to avoid touching the main vault door. Like a scene from the Mission: Impossible series of films burglars would have had to exhibit extreme physical prowess while climbing down the shaft and dodging detection from the security system.

Similarities Are There, But Are They Enough?

There are several similarities between the two heists:

  1. Matters Of Public Interest
    Hatton Gardens took place during the holidays, when many are taking time off. This can mean substitute workers or a lessened work force, especially because the bank was closed. The addition of the fire, if it were in fact a diversion, points toward diversionary tactics. The wine heist coincided with the birth of the Princess of Cambridge and took place on a Sunday, an often quiet day.
  2. High Level Of Skill And Planning Any time a robbery includes things like the Royal Family or other immense wealth, you have to believe that it is not a first time hit. Both of these robberies required intense planning, stealth, and perfect execution. This points to the idea that the same people are involved. After all, how many highly skilled burglars can be out there?
  3. High Stakes Both hits have incredibly high stakes. Not only were the stolen objects of incredibly high monetary value, they also involved high profile victims. Getting caught will likely result in huge penalties, due to both the worth of the pulls and the profile of the thefts.

The World Will Be Watching

Anything involving the Royal Family is always watched – from what they are wearing to the birth of their children. Likewise, the world will be watching how Berry Bros. and Rudd handles the heist from a PR standpoint as well as the investigation and results.

One has to wonder if more than just money prompts a crime like this and whether or not part of the allure of such a heist is the adrenaline. While some believe the Hatton Gardens heist was an inside job (or that the thieves had help from the inside), at this point no news outlets have found people with connections to both. Perhaps an overlapping security force or connections between security employees at both places could be the key to this case.

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