London (CNN) — Seven men have been arrested in connection with the so-called Hatton Garden heist, last month’s theft of gems and cash from a 60-year-old safe deposit company in the heart of London’s jewelry district, the Metropolitan Police said Tuesday.
The suspects, aged from 48 to 76, were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle, the police statement said.
More than 200 officers who raided 12 properties in north London and in Kent, south of London, on Tuesday morning recovered “a number of large bags containing significant amounts of high value property,” it said.
“Officers are confident these are items stolen during the burglary.”
The seven men have been taken to a London police station for questioning, police said. Searches of the properties are continuing.
Thieves broke into the vault of Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. over the Easter holiday and may have been able to take as long as four days to rifle through the boxes.
The Metropolitan Police said its officers had worked “relentlessly” over the past six weeks to track down those responsible and recover the stolen goods.
“An intense investigation has been undertaken to ensure the victims, the individual box owners, the small businesses and the wider Hatton Garden community can get justice,” it said.
However, the force acknowledged that its initial response to an intruder alarm triggered by the thieves at the safe deposit company had been lacking and said it was working to improve its systems.
Police haven’t given a precise value for what was taken. Numerous British news organizations put the value of the loss in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, but a former police official in London has speculated that the loss could run to £200 million ($310 million), an estimate widely reported by news media.