Sept. 5, 2013
The tunnel started in leather goods shop Le Sac and ended inside the Baker Street branch of Lloyds Bank.
After taking almost three months to tunnel under a branch of Lloyds Bank on Baker Street, on September 1, 1971, three robbers forced open more than 260 safety-deposit boxes and walked away with loot valued at more than £3 million. None of the stolen valuables was ever recovered.
By Robert Walsh
“We’ve got about £400,000. We’ll let you know when we’re coming out…” – Part of the intercepted radio chatter between gang members during the robbery.
September 1, 1971. In Wimpole Street, London, amateur CB radio hobbyist Robert Rowlands is tuning his set at around 1a.m., trying to tune in popular European station Radio Luxembourg. Radio Luxembourg doesn’t come through his speakers, but what does provides both him and Scotland Yard detectives with something that none of them have run across before. Rowlands has unwittingly picked up walkie-talkies operating ordinary public frequencies and the conversation is all about a bank robbery in progress. But which bank and where?
Rowlands, once he’d heard enough to know what he’d stumbled upon, called the police. The officer he spoke to, given that it was 1a.m. on a Saturday morning, assumed it was yet another hoaxer who’d perhaps taken one drink too many. He politely suggested that if Rowlands heard any more suspicious chatter he should record it and then ended the call.
Rowlands picked up a small tape recorder, recorded every time the unknown crooks started talking and then dialled the police a second time. This time he was absolutely insistent that a major robbery was still in progress and this time Scotland Yard detectives were sent to his home to talk it through and listen to the tape. What they heard caused a major alert and search operation. It was clear from the tape that a major robbery was still in progress and, if they moved quickly enough, police stood a good chance of finding exactly which bank was being robbed and maybe of catching the robbers red-handed.