Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Baker Street Robbery

This audacious and meticulously executed robbery of Lloyds Bank on the corner of Baker Street & Marylebone Road in London, in September 1971 resulted in the conviction of four of the gang, and virtually none of the stolen haul, ever recovered.  Many myths have grown around this job, with conspiracy theorists working overtime to justify their delusions, and excuses to counter unfortunate truths.  A man called Robert Rowlands started the downfall of the gang.  Mr Rowlands was a radio ham, at that time, considered by the authorities to be a danger to the safety of the nation, and should not be listening in to broadcasts.  Even from criminals!   He phoned his local Police station after hearing conversations that indicated something illegal was going on.  His local Police were not interested, so he started recording the conversations, obviously through walkie-talkies.  These recordings became crucial during the trial.  He decided to phone Scotland Yard, who definitely took an interest, who dispatched a couple of officers, who after listening for some time, called in their superiors.

    From the conversations, they believed the target was a bank.  But which one?  There were 750 throughout the London borough.  Many officers were sent out to check on premises, bring in bank officials to open up and check.  They actually did visit Lloyds in Baker Street, but the robbers naturally, must have heard the doors being opened, and remained quiet.  They did have a lookout or lookouts on nearby roofs, so they could have alerted the men in the vault.  On the next working day, the manager of the bank received the biggest shock of his life, to see nearly 270 safety deposit boxes opened and empty.  Inside the vault was a hole in the floor.  They had tunnelled their way in.  The tunnel stretched for forty feet, to an empty shop two doors away.  They had spent considerable time digging their way in, and burned a hole in the vault floor with a thermal lance. 

    Checking out the empty shop, found that it had been leased to a man called Ben Wolf, a leather goods dealer in his mid 60`s, from East Dulwich.  Long and intensive surveillance led the Police to Reg Tucker, 37, a company director, Tony Gavin, 38, a photographer from Dalston & Tom Stephens, 35, a car dealer from Islington.  Despite that there had to be more involved, including a woman, whose voice was taped by Mr Rowlands, these four were the only people charged.  All except Wolf, pleaded guilty and received 12 years apiece, Wolf pleaded not guilty but received 8 years, on the account of his age.  The participants were not exactly a roll call of the Underworld elite, which shows that many big and well planned jobs are not the sole preserve of the name villains.

    The biggest load of bollocks about this crime was the allegation that they found compromising photos of Princess Margaret, and so the Government & Security Services orchestrated a cover up.  No pictures have ever surfaced.  A claim was made that the names and sentences of the accused was kept secret.  REALLY?  Somehow, Michael X has been thrown into the mix, now elevated to a "well known underworld figure", yet, this "well known...." was nothing but a small time pimp, pusher and would be Peter Rachman.  The conspiracy theorists claim that he was framed for murder in Jamaica in 1975 on the orders of the Government and executed.  In 1975.  He did murder a British woman, and they still had the death penalty there.  She was an MI6 agent they claim.  Where is the proof?  The files on Michael X are closed until 2054.  More proof of a cover up, they claim.  All these people have to do is look into murder cases, no matter how old and obscure, and you will find many have extended closure on them.  Doing research, I have found obscure cases with closure ranging from 75 years to nearly 100.  I wonder what the conspiracies are, here?  A "D" Notice was issued to the newspapers, yet there is no proof of this.  And in fact, a D Notice is only a request to withhold reporting, as it may give warning to the villains how much the Police have uncovered.  Do you remember the kidnapping of young Lesley Whittle?  The cop in charge, Bob Booth, admitted later, that he should have issued a D Notice on this case, as the media swamped them and even followed them as they tried to bargain with the kidnapper.  Do you remember seeing hordes of reporters and TV crews besiege a phone box where a message was to be left by the kidnapper?  What would the conspiracy have been here?  In reality, a D Notice is not as sinister as it could imply.  To finish off, do you see a stranger being introduced to the villains who pulled the job and them showing the stranger the "photos" of Margaret being poked?  This would also be common knowledge amongst the criminal fraternity, and as for somebody allegedly possessing highly compromising photos, worth a fortune to pornographers on the Continent and the USA, or as claimed a "get out of jail free" card, how long would it be before the big time villains moved in, took the prize and eliminated all of them?  It never happened.  Why?  because the premise of the "Bank Job" film is bollocks.  Through and through.