Policeman tells memories of the 1971 Baker Street bank burglary
21 September, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary
A tipped hat and smart salute in the direction of Diary correspondent Mark Newberry, who wrote in to share his memories of the Baker Street burglary, 1971, as mentioned in last week’s column.
Mr Newberry was on duty at the Marylebone Lane police station on the
weekend when a gang of daring crooks tunnelled into the Baker Street branch of Lloyds Bank and did over its basement vault, scampering off with a fortune.
He tells Diary he had cut his teeth working as a beat PC in the Limehouse area between 1963 and 1969 before being transferred north and being promoted to the rank of sergeant.
And he was on duty as officers scrambled to find the gang who they believed were digging their way into a bank vault, after a tip-off from an amateur radio ham who overheard their walkie-talkie conversations.
“The mention of the burglary certainly brought back memories of my own,” he says. “I recall being on duty as the station officer at Marylebone Lane police station when the thing kicked off and remember the ongoing outside efforts that followed the reported involvement of the radio ham listening in to the gang’s radio chat.
“I was busy enough to pay no more than a passing copper’s interest at the time, as colleagues were engaged in trying to establish what was going on. But I’ve occasionally wondered why, with bank security also taken into account, keyholders, supervisory call-out staff, premises checks and the like, the actual location wasn’t found in time and why the investigation that followed seemed to fail and recede in the public consciousness.”
He also remembers that the information the radio ham gave them was rather scant, which hampered their attempts to find the gang.
“It was searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack,” he says. “There was just not enough information to pin things down and the break-in was only discovered on the Monday. All in all, an extraordinary business that was one of many interesting experiences during my time in the West End.”