Brian Reader dead: Mastermind behind the famous Hatton Garden heist dies aged 84 from cancer

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Hatton Garden heist mastermind Brian Reader has died

Brian Reader, the mastermind behind the famous Hatton Garden heist, has died at the age of 84. He was responsible for some of Britain's greatest thefts, earning over £200 million in high-stakes heists, including the infamous Brink's-Mat robbery in 1983. His reputation prompted him to orchestrate the Hatton Garden raid in 2015, garnering him the nickname "Guv'nor." Known as the "Diamond Wheezers," Reader and his crew broke into a safety deposit vault and stole £29 million. However, the majority of the cash and diamonds, totaling almost two-thirds of the loot, remain unaccounted for. Although his friends and relatives tried to keep his death a secret, a death certificate stating his occupation as a retired gardener revealed that he died in September 2023 at his home in Dartford, Kent, from colon and prostate cancer, according to The Sun. Reader was sentenced to six years and three months in jail for conspiracy to commit burglary. He was released in 2018, halfway through his sentence, due to health concerns, including strokes.

Reader was born in London's Docklands in 1939 and began his criminal career at the age of 11 by pilfering tinned apples. He made the news in the 1960s after stealing £500,000 from a Post Office. By 32, he was a member of a group that targeted banks in downtown London.

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Mastermind behind the famous Hatton Garden heist Brian Reader died aged 84 from cancerMastermind behind the famous Hatton Garden heist Brian Reader died aged 84 from cancer
Mastermind behind the famous Hatton Garden heist Brian Reader died aged 84 from cancer | PA

In 1971, Reader led the "Millionaire Moles" in a 40-foot tunnel beneath a restaurant to get access to a Baker Street Lloyds bank, where they stole £3 million. They attacked again at a Lloyds store on Holborn Circus in 1982, stealing £1 million in jewellery. Reader was jailed for nine years in 1985 for his role in the Brinks Mat gold robbery, the biggest British heist of its kind - roughly £26 million worth of gold, diamonds and cash was stolen (worth more than £100 million today). To add further drama, the audacious crime turned out to be an inside job.

But the real mystery, and one which is still left mostly unanswered, is what happened to all of that looted gold. The story of the robbery from its inception to the investigation into those who carried it out, was told in the gripping BBC One drama The Gold, which aired weekly last year. Despite his illicit activities, Reader remained a dedicated family man. He returned to his wife, Lyn, every night and lived a tranquil life, avoiding the temptations of the criminal underground. The couple and their children lived in Grove Park, South East London, using the alias McCarthy.

However, Reader couldn't resist one more theft and was drawn into the Hatton Garden raid. Using their expertise, the group carried out one of the UK's most daring heists over a bank holiday weekend.

They entered the building disguised as gas repairmen, drilled through a concrete wall and accessed the vault. To date, just around one-third of the stolen valuables have been recovered from the 73 plundered safe deposit boxes.

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