'Security Deposits', situated in Knightsbridge, one of the most fashionable areas of London, was a company which provided lockable safe deposit boxes in a secure building for its rich clients. It attracted the kind of people who preferred not to use banks, where money is easier to trace. Its owners, Z.A. and Parvez Latif had bought the business for nearly a million pounds in 1986, but things had not gone well – and in their first year they lost around £400,000. Latif owed more than £100,000, and had no way of repaying the money.
Around this time, Latif became friendly with a client of the firm, a wealthy young Italian named Valerio Viccei, who had a passion for good living and expensive cars. Viccei was wanted in his native country for bank robbery and had escaped to London, where he also robbed banks whenever he needed money. Not surprisingly, he kept his money with 'Security Deposits' rather than putting it in a bank. The two men, Latif and Viccei, began to socialise, often going out to restaurants together, and at some point they realised that by working together they could solve both their problems.
The robbery itself
The two men began to prepare. Latif increased his insurance on the business to £1 million, and Viccei contacted a gang of criminal associates, who would help them to carry out their plan. Soon they were ready. At around three o'clock on Sunday July 13th 1987, Viccei telephoned 'Security Deposits' pretending to be a new customer who wanted to deposit his money with the company. Because it was a Sunday, only Latif and two security guards were there, so Latif 'offered' to show the man round himself. He gave the impression that he was very eager to get a new customer. Viccei and another man arrived, and while Latif was showing them round, Viccei pulled out a gun. Latif pretended to panic. The thieves smashed open the deposit boxes and threw the contents into sacks. Viccei cut his hand badly, but continued with his work. No one knows exactly how much money was in the boxes, but when the thieves left the building at five o'clock that afternoon, it is estimated that they took between £20 and £60 million pounds with them!
The police were desperate to catch the gang and started to question the three men who had been in the bank at the time of the robbery. The crime had been so easy to commit that it seemed to suggest inside help, but they didn't know exactly who to suspect. Meanwhile, business continued as usual. Latif worked day and night, dealing with furious clients who had lost so much. Eventually the police found an important clue: one clear fingerprint on the broken security boxes. Would this help them find the robbers? The British files revealed nothing, but after contacting their colleagues in Interpol, the Italian police soon confirmed that the fingerprint belonged to Valerio Viccei, a well-known bank robber.
The police began to follow anyone who might be associated with Viccei. They noticed that these people often met at the same London hotel – Whites. A black Ferrari was often parked there too, and the police knew of Viccei's love for expensive cars. They watched the hotel day and night, convinced that there was some connection with Viccei.
For several weeks nothing happened. Then, suddenly, Viccei was recognized getting into the Ferrari. The police followed, waiting for their chance. Finally, the Ferrari stopped at some traffic lights, and quickly one of the policemen reached in through the window and tried to grab the ignition key. He was dragged nearly twenty metres before another policeman jumped onto the car and broke the window. Viccei was finally arrested, but when the police searched his flat, they could find nothing to connect Viccei with any of the staff at 'Security Deposits'. They began to check through every phone call Viccei had made in the previous few months, and there, finally, was their evidence – a call to Parvez Latif, the owner of 'Security Deposits'! Latif was arrested and charged. He and his girlfriend, as well as Viccei and his gang, were all eventually tried at the Old Bailey, the most important court in Britain. Viccei was sentenced to twenty-two years, Latif to eighteen. But they could so easily have escaped. Viccei had planned to hide in Columbia with his money, and if he had got away, the police would never have found Latif. However, there had been difficulties arranging the papers needed to export his new car, and Viccei refused to leave without his beloved Ferrari!
Over to you
Cory Criminal takes a bicycle left unattended on Vera Victim's front porch. Cory rides the bicycle all over town and fastens to the frame his own flashing neon bicycle licence plate, emblazoned "CORY'S."
(a) What crime has Cory committed?
(b) What crime would it be if Cory broke through a window of Vera's house entered, and then took the bicycle?
(c) What if Cory put a knife to Vera's throat, made her get off her two- wheeler, and rode away with it?