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Ireland’s Safe Deposit Box Fiasco, A Lesson From Hatton Garden


Ireland’s Safe Deposit Box Fiasco, A Lesson From Hatton Garden

Unregulated private safe deposit box rental businesses sprung up to exploit a void left by regulated businesses such as banks and credit unions who once offered this service. These regulated institutions left the market over the last decade due to health, safety, long-term custody, and of course cost concerns.

It is important to appreciate therefore that as safe deposit box rental has generally moved from the regulated banking industry to unregulated private hands, many of the standards and oversight that one might think would remain intact for the most basic of security reasons are in fact alien to the new private safe deposit box rental paradigm. 

This is key to how private safe deposit box rental businesses have achieved profitability when their regulated counterparts had to remove themselves from the market.

Private safe deposit box businesses function in an environment outside of any constraints foisted on their remaining counterparts in the credit union or banking industry. Operating in this free for all environment, any claim to a security or standards level can be expected to go completely unchallenged by the most and uninspected by authorities.

Private Safe Deposit Box Rental In Ireland Is Reliant On Three Basic Principles:

1. Smoke And Mirrors:

Dissemination of “puff pieces” by journalists is the most important factor in encouraging new clients for safe deposit box rental. Something easily achieved given the state of modern journalism and its need for eye catching headlines. If one had a Euro for every time an interviewer or article writer made reference to “James Bond” when talking about the security of certain safe deposit box rental businesses based in Ireland, I’m sure it would almost cover the yearly fee for an entry level box. Yet not once has a recognised safe and vault security expert accompanied a journalist to assess one of these businesses or been asked to comment. Instead we rely on press releases from owners or impressions gleaned by journalists who have absolutely no idea that, what they are looking at, may in fact have more in common with a James Bond film set than an actual certified strong room.

No safe deposit box rental business in Ireland has yet produced an accredited certification document for their “vault” burglary and fire standards. These unregulated businesses continue to claim certification for burglary or fire resistance they do not have, while being promoted by many in the media as “state of the art”. Actual “state of the art” safes and vaults certified under a strict and evolving European testing regime may as well not exist.

2. Smearing The Image Of Certified Safes:

Privately owned home safes have become very affordable, and what is worse from the safe deposit box entrepreneur’s point of view, is that all certified safes are tested to the very same burglary standard (EN1143-1) and fire standards (EN15659 and EN1047-1) that these businesses claim apply to their “vault”. Yet the owners of these certified burglary and fire resistant safes only pay for them once and can access them 24/7.

The answer to this problem from the private safe deposit box rental sector has been to conflate certified safes with untested and uncertified poor quality DIY units that are not in fact “safes” at all under European standards. This is done by referring to the type of YouTube video we have all seen of a “safe” that is little more than a thin metal box being popped open with all manner of mundane objects. Completely untrue statements regarding both burglary and fire standards which regularly appear in press releases and on the websites of many of these businesses can only be attributable to either ignorance or dishonesty.

Either way, this is a good indication of the expertise and trustworthiness of such operations.

3. Sowing The Seeds Of Fear To Grab Headlines:

On the 23rd of April 2020 at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic two Headlines appeared in two separate newspapers.

The first was carried by the Irish Times and read “Demand for deposit boxes rise on fear of burglaries” with the by-line "Experts advise homeowners and businesses to store valuables away from their premises"

The second appeared in the Irish Independent at read ”A day without burglaries, big drop in all crime figures as virus keeps everyone at home”.

The first headline was intended to promote the use of a certain safe deposit box rental business during the Covid-19 lockdown and from the second headline, as you can guess, there was no increased “fear of burglaries”. Somebody just made it up.

More importantly however was the fact that this article was encouraging people to risk their lives travelling to an artificially lit and ventilated, non-essential basement business that seemed to be in Covid-19 denial, during a lockdown. A security “expert” would never advise a homeowner to take such extreme risks with their health and to break the law to do so.

A Lesson From Hatton Garden:

What may come as a big surprise to many people who have been subject to misinformation regarding the burglary resistance of properly certified safes is an interesting revelation from the Hatton Garden trial. During the Hatton Garden safe deposit box robbery trial Prosecutor Philip Evans QC told the jury that the same gang who had so successfully penetrated the Hatton Garden vault had been caught on CCTV at an earlier date, trying to drill into a mid-level European certified safe at the high-end Bond Street jewellers Chatila. The attempt to break into this safe had to be abandoned in favour of looting display cabinets due to the gang's inability to breach the certified safe's door and walls.

Feel free to Google it.

Trust Is Good, Control Is Better:

There is a saying popular in some parts of Europe "trust is good but control is better". This saying must surely sum up what can be the only rational attitude to leaving valuables with an unregulated business run by complete strangers many of whom, if their claims were examined, would be shown to have amply demonstrated that they don’t have the first clue when it comes to standards, security or best practice.

There Is No Substitute For A Certified Safe Under Your Control, That Can Be Accessed When You Need It And Can Be Integrated With The Security Systems And Event Monitoring You Trust:

  • No yearly recurring fees.
  • No reason to put your health at extra risk during a pandemic or flu season.
  • No need to travel during business hours back and forth to have access to your belongings.
  • No need to leave jewellery at home unprotected due to access to a safe deposit box being restricted to fixed business hours and certain days of the week.
  • No risk of inside robbery,  the most common factor in safe deposit robberies worldwide.
  • No risk that the security of your valuables is in the hands of poorly paid and trained staff.
  • No need to surrender your personal information including your address to a variety of complete strangers. 
  • No probate issues in accessing a will that may be in a safe deposit box.
  • No probate issues related to deceased deposit box owners.
  • No risk that someday you might find that the businesses is gone and your valuables with them. They are after all completely unregulated and no more immune from bad management and financial shocks than any other private business.

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