A heist of epic proportions took place over the weekend in London's famous Hatton Garden jewelry district. Authorities are remaining tight-lipped while the "slow and painstaking" forensic investigation continues at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit, but so far the BBC reports that as many as 70 safe deposit boxes were opened. James Riley, chief executive of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, frames the crime as a "Hollywood-style heist" in comments to the Guardian. Early reports suggest the burglars got to the vault area via an elevator shaft and used heavy machinery to cut through a wall. The thieves reportedly used the holiday weekend to their advantage: They allegedly broke in on Thursday night, and police weren't notified until yesterday morning, the Guardian reports.
Hatton Garden is packed with a heavier concentration of jewelry dealers and shops than any other place in the UK, and the Guardian notes that many who stored jewelry with Hatton Garden Safe Deposit did so to avoid paying hefty insurance premiums, meaning some of the stolen goods may be uninsured. Authorities haven't yet placed a value on what was taken, though one former police official said the figure could hit $300 million. While Riley describes the building as a "safe on steroids," a BBC correspondent says it's possible the burglars had inside info, noting that the building was outfitted with a new alarm system that had yet to be activated. The chances of recovering any stolen gems? "Near impossible," says one diamond dealer. "Once diamonds have been recut and polished there is no geological map." (Another heist, in France, involved armored cars.)