back to article Ex-cop: Holborn fireball comms outage cover for £200m bling heist gang

Last Wednesday's blaze in Holborn, which knocked out power and internet access across London, could have been sparked by thieves pulling a daring heist to pocket £200m in precious stones and metals. "I think that probably was deliberate," John O’Connor, former head of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad told capital radio station LBC …

  1. Steve 114

    Fun theory, but it's hardly 'nearby'. Other end of High Holborn, and beyond.

    1. Throatwobbler Mangrove

      but maybe close enough?

      El Reg's original report noted that services across London were affected and "Holborn is home to a BT switching station".

      OTOH, this is all premised on a comment by a retired cop who has never heard of an electricity network fire that large. I don't think he's lying, but would he have heard of it? I mean, it would be a bit more meaningful if a power network manager (or whatever) said they'd never heard of a fire that size. If a network engineer said he'd never heard of a diamond theft that big, no-one would pay much attention because her/his expertise isn't in that field...

      1. Lee D

        What are the chances that the "alarm system" was somehow tied into those BT lines affected by the outage?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Well, today's alarm systems tend to use GSM for their signalling, with the landline as the backup. A bit more (local) resilience on the GSM front, after all.

          Though, of course, the alarm system may not have been that modern....

          1. Ian Michael Gumby
            Black Helicopters

            @AC re GSM

            You do realize that they can easily knock out mobile traffic too.

            Not to mention that the nearby antennas for cell communication also use the same BT lines..

            So if you knock out a large enough area in terms of power and cell towers, and then knock out the local cell traffic with a blocker... You've pretty much shut that avenue down...

            Of course this is redundant because they took out the alarm system too.

            This would only leave radio as an option, but that too can be jammed to a point.

      2. auburnman

        I think he's perfectly likely to have heard of it if there was ever a fire of that scale in his working lifetime; surely any disaster big enough to cause evacuations would be an all hands to the pump job for all the emergency services.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Comment by a retired cop looking for a Fleet Stree payday and getting his face in the papers who has never ..."


    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Fun theory, but it's hardly 'nearby'. Other end of High Holborn, and beyond.

      On the Internet, there isn't such a thing as distance. Only ping times and latency :).

      I think the theory has merit, though, it's *exactly* because it's not next door that it makes sense - you wouldn't want to have the emergency services on top of you when you're pulling off a heist like that, you want them elsewhere engaged.

      But for the moment it remains a theory AFAIK - I haven't seen anything tie the two together other than timing.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Possible

      Looks like it may have been started by someone smoking dope down there...

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        Re: Possible

        "Looks like it may have been started by someone smoking dope down there..."

        Sure if they were smoking thermite.

        Once you get it started, you can't put it out. Not too terribly complicated, although you need to get the mix right otherwise it goes boom or doesn't work. This would burn through almost everything.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Copper thieves

      Our experience with copper thieves is that they know exactly what they are doing. They will strip out all the earth and neutral copperwork, leaving all the live stuff in place. The supply will stay on, and you only know about it when a fault occurs and the protection does not work as expected because you have compromised earth and neutral lines.

      Because of the energy available in HV distribution circuits, it would be difficult to cause a fault that does not either kill you in the resulting fireball, or simply trip remote protection resulting in a power cut but no fire.

      1. Ru'

        Re: Copper thieves

        Out of interest, how would the circuit still operate without any neutral/earth cabling?

        1. PNGuinn

          Re: Copper thieves - Missing neutral

          1. There may well be no seperate earth. Likely the cabling is PME (protective multiple earth) where the neutral is tied to earth at regular intervals and is used as the earth return.

          2. Provided the phases are balanced (identical loads) there will be nothing whatsoever happening in the neutral. In practice that's almost never the case of course, but the currents should be orders of magnitude less than the phases. Also the neutral will be at about earth potential, so "safe"* to hanlle in a live system. For PME the multiple earth bonding required will probably mean that the mass of earth will quite happily take the residual current.

          * For pikey definitions of "safe". Just hope a phase doesn't drop out eg because a digger hunks up a cable oranother bunch of pikeys cuts the wrong cable or gets greedy and tries to nick the lot at the same time.

          As an aside, I remember when I was working at Macaroni Comms at Writtle we had an intermittant camp behind the site. The council decided to stick a couple of heavy timber posts in to deter access. They did decide to plant 'em deep. Anyways, about four feet down the engineering team found a salt glazed pipe in the way...

          Cue large digging spike. <<FLASH>>.(11 kV). He survived. Power went out at some point and the site went over to genny. Over lunch I went out to have a look. There were burn marks at the top of the hole and below, but no spike. Apparently he went back down to retreive the spike cue <<FLASH>> and the loss of power. He survived again.

          Darwin is cruel sometimes.

        2. EngineerAl

          Re: Copper thieves

          No ground or neutral at the location the thieves are working, but other nearby(ish) neutrals and grounds serve the purpose?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Copper thieves

          Quite easily. It's a three phase supply, there is no requirement for a neutral. The cable sheath and/or screen will be grounded, either at both ends (solid bond) or at one end only (single point bond). The circuit will still work if the ground is missing but the induced voltage in the sheath would rise to potentially lethal levels. (There's cross bonding as well, which is something different to what gets referred to as cross bonding in domestic wiring, but that's a special case of single point bonding).

          This circuit being elderly oil-filled cables means that once the fault occurred there would be a nice source of fuel to feed the fire. (Not sure if it's a multicore cable or three cables in trefoil formation)

  3. Sir Barry

    John O’Connor, former head of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad

    Reading his theory explains why he is "former" rather than "current".

    I have my own theory - the fire was started by Sky/Virgin/Talk Talk in a hissy fit against BT Openreach.

    1. Alex Walsh

      I'm guessing he's former Flying Squad because the Flying Squad doesn't exist any more?

      1. macjules Silver badge

        I believe it does still very much exist. "The Flying Squad is a branch of the Specialist, Organised & Economic Crime Command within London's Metropolitan Police Service. The Squad's purpose is to investigate commercial armed robberies, along with the prevention and investigation of other serious armed crime."

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    It does sound like something from a movie... since the thieves entrance had to be planned well in advance. I guess the unanswered question for now is: coincidence or planned mayhem? I suppose it's not too farfetched to think it the fire was planned IF the crooks had knowledge of the power/phone and internet cabling and that was a critical junction point.

    1. Cliff


      Being in a movie doesn't necessarily make something a bad idea (although it often does, in fairness, but it's correlation, not causal).

      I'd day plausible - if doddery old Fingers McMetal was looking for scrap, what's the cost of sending him down Holborn on the right weekend? He fucks up comms whilst he's there, it may affect alarms, which can only be a good thing for you. If he blows himself up, even better, you don't have to pay him the few grand you promised. Put another way, you're about to do a nine-figure blag, why not stack the cards in your favour with something that can only count in your favour?

  5. TechicallyConfused

    Hollywood Eat Your Heart Out

    Does anyone else think this sounds like a cliched movie script? If this is really how it went down then you have to take your hat off to the sheer audacity and imagination of these guys.

    Though I hasten to add that they deserve locking up forever given the staggering amount of damage the could have caused and the lives they put at risk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hollywood Eat Your Heart Out

      Never mind Hollywood, it instantly reminded me of the plots of two quite watchable British heist films:

      In "Sexy Beast", the crims use the premises of a Sauna to drill through the wall of the pool into the bank vault next door.

      In "The Bank Job", the crims rent a shop next to the bank and tunnel from the basement down into underground tunnels running below the vault and then up through the vault floor. The police are tipped off briefly visit the outside of the locked vault while the heist is in progress.

      In the first film, water flooding into the vault from the pool when they break through the wall - disabling the security system and allowing the heist to be carried out.

      In the latter film, the bank's alarm is out of action, making the heist possible - which chimes with the point of this Reg article...

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Hollywood Eat Your Heart Out

        You get an upvote just for mentioning Sexy Beast

        1. Turtle

          @Elmer Phud

          "You get an upvote just for mentioning Sexy Beast';

          And an upvote to you too!

          How could one and the same person play both Gandhi, and Don Logan? Still baffles me...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hollywood Eat Your Heart Out

        The Bank Job film was based loosely on a genuine crime, the 1971 Barclays Bank burglary near Baker Street. I don't think that there were any naughty photos of Princess Margaret in the real crime though.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hollywood Eat Your Heart Out

          Per "The Bank Job", it was probably MI6 recovering naughty videos of Princes Andrew and Harry from the vault. Cleaning up the gold and jewels was just a bonus.

      3. BongoJoe

        Re: Hollywood Eat Your Heart Out

        The strange thing is that I just watched the excellent Belgian series, Salamander, the night before this news broke...

  6. Crisp

    Theft is bad.

    But I can't help feeling ever so slightly impressed with their work.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Transatlantic twonk

    It's "JEWELLERY"

    jewelry, inded.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Transatlantic twonk

      Just reading the comments to seeif someone had beaten me to it. Have an upvote!

      Wrong icon though.... :-)

    2. PNGuinn

      Re: Transatlantic twonk

      +1 for Transatlantic Twonk.

      I learn an new insult here almost every day

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Transatlantic twonk

        "+1 for Transatlantic Twonk."

        Ditto, especially for the shore-neutral equality of of the lexical construction meaning it can be used from either side.

    3. Richard 41

      Re: Transatlantic twonk

      Ditto fiber / fibre.

    4. Elmer Phud

      Re: Transatlantic twonk

      and it's in 'hoburn' not Hol-born (which isn't far from Wesminister - Westminister, more Brits have problems with that than anyone else)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Transatlantic twonk

      Jewellery? Acceptable but surely this calls for - TOMFOOLERY

    6. MisterP

      Re: Transatlantic twonk

      Not to mention 'safety deposit boxes' and 'internet fibre lines'.

      Is no-one proud of their word skills / language / country / spell checker? Don't be sheep.

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Transatlantic twonk

        This was written by our US desk. Wind your necks in.

        1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

          Re: Transatlantic twonk

          @ gazthejourno: In some ways that's even worse

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a script for a "die hard" movie...

    Someone call John Mclane...

    1. Velv
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Sounds like a script for a "die hard" movie...

      I was just wondering if Hans and Simon have any other brothers who might be a bit upset by their family losses...

    2. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Sounds like a script for a "die hard" movie...

      You got down voted because Bruce Willis has run his course.

      Maybe a job for Ashton Kutcher ?

  9. phuzz Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Could they make more from the film rights than they do from the robbery?

    >>> Paris knows all about filming.

  10. NightFox

    OK, but how would this incident have helped their heist? As far as I understand it was too far away to cause any noise to drown out the sound of their own activity, people in the area of the heist weren't evacuated, and as for tying up the emergency services - really? I can't see the Met not responding to a phone call or alarm activation because they maybe had a couple of their cars busy a bit further away with a road closure?

    1. Lee D


      "BT outage"

      Join the dots.

    2. Elmer Phud

      " I can't see the Met not responding to a phone call or alarm activation because they maybe had a couple of their cars busy . . . "

      The way things are with the Met (no, not the City Cops - that;s a different universe entirely) they may only have a couple of cars in the centre of town.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Wouldn't it be City police in Hatton Garden? Thought they didn't talk to the Met...

      1. Tim J

        Re: Met?

        No, Hatton Garden is just outside the City of London (it's in the borough of Camden),

    4. phil dude

      easter weekend....

      I agree....The offices were empty for the weekend. surely more of a contributory factor?

      Also, I don't think there would be sufficient noise would attract much attention...

      Of course, it could be an inside job....uninsured jewels!!!


  11. Len

    This doesn't add up at all

    First of all was the fire quite some distance from Hatton Garden. Over a kilometre as the crow flies and considerably longer by road. They are not even in the same district.

    Second of all, the fire was on Wednesday while the crims are thought to have started on Friday because the vault would have been open on Thursday as usual.

    1. auburnman

      Re: This doesn't add up at all

      Makes perfect sense to me, in the aftermath of the big fire people will probably think any alarms are just acting up, and you can clart around town with big tools / climbing gear quite openly. If you get challenged you can say you're on the way to the fire site or checking other underground infrastructure for secondary damage.

  12. MonkeyCee

    C'mon Reg

    So there's a quote from an ex-flying squad cop (they do still exist, I think the US equivalent is Robbery & Homicide division) which sounds all nice and plays well with the Ocean's 11 theme for this robbery.

    Or the London fire brigade said its initial assessment showed the fire was caused by an electrical fault damaging an 8 inch gas main which ruptured and fuelled the flames.

    It's a gas fire, not electrical. Could still be deliberate.

    As for the actual crime... the noise could possibly been explained by work on Crossrail. But what mystifies me is that CCTV and various sensors weren't checked or triggered, and that there wasn't any physical inspection of the premises over the long weekend.

    Most of the other thefts I'm aware of from the area are more of the confidence trick type, the theft in 2003 from the same safety deposit boxes seemed to involve duplicating keys or lockpicking (or bumping or some other non destructive manipulation), and a long list of people selling fake goods or switching items.

  13. Amorous Cowherder


    Out of the whole sorry episode the most amusing part is all these well off dealers whinging that their uninsured jewellery was nicked. Let's re-iterate that word again....UNINSURED.

    You have something valuable and you don't get it valued or insured, more fool you!

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Insurance

      I think you will find that in most cases it is uninsured because that way nobody knows you have it. A lot of high value stuff gets shifted around (including from country to country) to disguise ownership and to stop those pesky Taxmen knowing about them.

      Then there is of course the stuff which may not be in the possession of the rightful owner....bit tricky to insure that stuff too.

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Insurance

        There may well be other stuff that hasn't necessarily been 'appropriated' but tends to come in kilos.

        Nice handy place if you have clients in the City.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Insurance

      "You have something valuable and you don't get it valued or insured, more fool you!"

      Insurance comes in many forms. Hiding it in a honking great secure vault was probably seen as being reasonably risk free, possibly at a lower cost than paying cash to an insurance company who would then probably have a clause requiring you to pay someone to store it in a honking great secure vault.

  14. Gideon 1

    Early signs of dementia include paranoia. Maybe time to go see your doctor?

  15. Vimes

    Umm... He's an ex-policeman, not an ex-firefighter.

    He can probably tell us as much about how fire spreads & develops as a firefighter can explain how to investigate serious crime.

  16. Spaceman Spiff


    Are we sure this isn't a Michael Caine movie production?

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Huh?

      It might be but not many people know that

  17. TRT Silver badge


    Pronounced Hole-Burn.


  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.

  19. Pulse-Eight

    I used to work in Aldwych and in 2011~ there was a flood in the CAA building (exactly where this fire is) it took the power out for the whole area that was affected by this fire. Under the CAA is a major electrical distribution point for the area, I am not an engineer, but there is every chance that the flood and subsequent corrosion damage could be related, especially if part of the system isolated due to damage was put back into service?

    Just a thought...

  20. James Cane


    I reckon they're going to make more on the film rights than they do selling the loot.

  21. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    New York City

    So, they had an underground transformer burn up in New York City like 10 or 15 years ago. The cause? Some restaurant had been dumping their grease down the drain for like 20 or 30 years... eventually, the grease completely covered this ~6-8 foot tall transformer, it overheated and lit the grease on fire. Lots of smoke, lots of flame, lots of burnt out wiring.

  22. chivo243 Silver badge

    Anybody know the whereabouts of

    Danny Ocean? If true, this is life being stranger than fiction. If true, I gotta say this crew had their ducks in a row.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anybody know the whereabouts of

      Anybody know the whereabouts of Danny Ocean?

      Well, he /did/ marry a UK lawyer so he ought to be around and possibly in need of money, and there /are/ casinos in London (albeit a tad more subtle than in Vegas)..


  23. Iain

    Any grid engineers?

    Right, so the fire was by the CAA, about 1/3 the way up Kingsway north of the Aldwych.

    So, obviously the cables in the immediate area were damaged, but there's a lot more work that that area going on...?

    Can anyone explain why they seem to have been digging up the roads and replacing cable, all the way from Fleet St round the Aldwych including Drury Lane & Catherine St, all the way up Kingsway, and back east along Holborn by the station too?

  24. ecofeco Silver badge


    That is all.

  25. The Vociferous Time Waster


    beats doing your heists on GTAV

    I heard that locals were warned ahead of time to expect underground drilling noises due to some crossrail work that didn't exist

    Given that telecoms and power was out for a wide area it is entirely plausible that it was designed to take out either security systems or remote monitoring of those security systems

  26. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Where is Assange™?

    Has he managed to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy amidst the diversions?

  27. Barry Mahon

    Despite all the crap about self publicist O'Conner, doesn't the whole affair indicate the precarity of modern comms? Looking at the tv footage the "victorian tunnel" where it happened is a shambles of cabling with multiplr fibre trunks mixed up with electric cables of doubtful vintage. The police have prohibited anyone else from going in while they "investigate" Makes one wonder were MIx involved, there is likely to have been defence/security/intelligence traffic passing through.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > ... doesn't the whole affair indicate the precarity of modern comms?

      Yes, it's a good reminder (to those either affected or who have joined the dots) how much we've come to depend on "always on" internet. A few times I've heard (mostly from customers at work) things along the lines of "we need this working to do ${some important transaction}" - you certainly get "a sense of urgency" when it's the day they've got to send the payroll to the bank !

      But many of these are on the cheapest broadband deal they could find, with SLAs in the "we'll fix it if can be bothered" range. And then complain if it goes down and isn't fixed *now*.

      On the other hand, when you pay silly money per month for a dedicated leased line, with a 4 hour SLA, from a "top tier" outfit - and it takes them 5 hours just to work out that they need to send an engineer out. Well that is a tad annoying.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why the downvotes

    Most of my comments were factual and contained useful information.

    Also personal relevant experience ie talking to actual people who mentioned that at least one exploding substation over here was caused by some crazy phool messing around with it.

    The interesting thing is the intelligence connection, what if the fire was caused by the lithium backup battery for the CHQG fibre tap(s) ? Its as plausible a theory as any and they would never admit it for obvious reasons.

    I also read somewhere that copper theft in some places has become as sneaky as actually sending in a DIY robot *down the freakin' pipe* and using a blade or mini oxy rig to cut through say an unused drain pipe then pull it back out in sections.

    Also copper thieves sometimes steal lead drain pipe as well because its absence isn't always immediately obvious and it is not protected by SW because of its age.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as someone that works in the cabling and electrical distribution industry, given the age of much of the electrical infrastructure we're just surprised it doesn't happen more often. An awful lot of the cabling and joints are beyond their design life.

  30. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Hmm. According to some sources, the alarm at Hatton Garden did go off. But for some reason, it was not given the attention by police that (in hindsight) it deserved.

    It's possible that the Holborn electrical fire and subsequent BT outages may have triggered quite a few false alarms* and resulted in the police ignoring this as just one more. Some forensic analysis into the cause of the fire should be done. And if it turns out that it was vandalism and possibly related to the heist, there are bigger problems. On this side of the pond, utility infrastructure is generally considered to be economically critical. Access to cable routing and other construction details are not easily available to the public. So there is the possibility of insider connections within the various utility companies.

    *Triggering false alarms in advance of a burglary is one method of getting a real alarm to be overlooked or even have the system disconnected. Some years ago, a safety deposit box heist was facilitated by the thief renting a box and placing an alarm clock inside it. The alarm clock triggered a sound/vibration sensor in the vault, setting off the burglar alarm. Repeatedly finding nothing, the acoustic sensor was disabled (in the belief that it was faulty). After that, the theif struck.

  31. A Ghost
    Black Helicopters

    Just like NORAD, the Police were on Stand-Down

    This has all the hallmarks (ho ho) of a right little conspiracy theory fit up.

    The 'Special Operations Unit' (I hesitate to call these blaggers 'thieves'), was down there for FOUR days according to some reports. Did they take a packed lunch with them, or just nip out for a take-away when they got a bit peckish?

    Something is seriously fishy with all of this.

    Apparently they had heavy drilling equipment to get through 2 metres of concrete, after abseiling down a lift shaft that they had put out of action. But they got in through the roof, with no 'forced entry'. How did they get all that up there? Carry it? Drone/Helicopter drop off?

    Also the fire that happened a few days before. The media made no connection whatsoever until a day or so after the event. I was thinking 'Mmm.. fire in Holburn a little way away from the blag, wonder if it's connected'. Apparently the media didn't cotton on until after me and my suspicious mind. And the Police as well. The fools.

    Now we find out an alarm went off, but it was ignored. Of course it was. Of course it was. The Police were on Stand-Down. They are doing a 'local' investigation to find out what could possibly have gone wrong. Yeah, right, I eagerly await the findings of their report. Not.

    Something else that was odd was the way the Police Man reporting the crime nearly had tears in his eyes saying 'It's beautiful really, you've got to admire them. In all my years of policing I've never come across such a well executed blag. Its sheer simplicity, coupled with the elegance of its execution is a joy to behold. If I ever found out whodunnit, I'd like to shake their hand. Simply wonderful. Fuck me, this will be something to tell my grandchildren'. Or words to that effect.

    There was obviously something in there that someone in an extreme position of power wanted to get their hands on. Nuclear bomb plan details by Mossad of where they've hidden their rogue nukes. Perhaps? Prince Harry, taking his office of Mr. Wales a bit too seriously and caught worrying a sheep? Could happen. Or maybe nothing as fantastic as that, perhaps just a big wad of diamonds or gold or something extremely valuable that they wanted to get their hands on. That they knew was not insured. That they knew would not be reported to the insurance companies. Some kind of blackmail material? Perhaps an item of such financial magnitude, possibly just kept there temporarily, that was just too much to resist getting their grubby mittens on?

    They 'say', that there were 70 boxes done over. That's what they 'say'. Pah, I'm long past believing the lies I'm being force fed, like a good little sheeple. What if all of that was just a further distraction and there was only ONE TARGET. A la Salamander (Belgian drama about blaggers who knock off a safety deposit box place, but make it look like a general robbery when there is only one person after one thing). We only know what we are told.

    Also, the police seem pretty sure how much and what was in there, even though they have said 'we have no idea how much was stolen or what was in there'. And they seem pretty certain they'll never catch the little buggers too. 'They're in the wind', said a police officer that had just finished watching the last episode of The Wire.

    Smoke and mirrors indeed. I don't buy the fact that this was some audaciously well executed blag by 'Mr. Diamond' (did you hear about him?) and his chums. This was a high level set up. Mi5/6 or higher! Maybe an agency we have never even heard of. Mi7? 8?

    And yes, some good points about the distraction fire. They sent some old salt down there with a clever tip off and a promise of a big pay day. But little did he know, what a small pawn he was in this grand charade. No doubt, if he still has his fingers and toes (and lips and tongue) he will have been told to keep quiet. Or else! Probably lobbed him a few K to sweeten the loss of limbs and hair.

    Plus, the engineers are not allowed in now. Oh, making sure you mop up properly eh? I get it. This is all rather obvious. Sexy beast my arse! This job came from the highest levels in the land. Those boys that went in there were 'Special Ops'. Bankrolled by the kind of misfit and miscreant that only has one eye and obsessively stokes a particularly long haired cat. The Police were on Stand-Down, and the media complicit in the spreading of the fog of war!

    Just what the _hell_ was in at least one of those boxes to make all this necessary? That, we probably never _shall_ know. It's the crime of the century!

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