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Pensioners plead guilty over multi-million pound diamond heist

A photo released by the Metropolitan Police shows the the scene after thieves made off with valuables worth millions, in an undated handout photo received on April 22, 2015. Police are hunting for a gang which raided safety deposit boxes in London's major jewellery district, making off with cash and gems in what local media said could be the country's biggest-ever heist. REUTERS/Metropolitan Police/Handout via Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Four men, three of them pensioners, pleaded guilty on Friday to being part of a daring multi-million pound raid in London’s jewellery business district earlier this year.

Brian Reader, 76, John Collins, 74, Terry Perkins, 67 and Daniel Jones, 58, all appeared at Woolwich Crown Court and admitted conspiracy to burgle the Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd building which was targeted during the long Easter holiday weekend in May.

Items worth more than 10 million pounds were stolen when intruders broke into the vault where many of the area’s gold, diamond and jewellery businesses kept stock and made off with the contents of 73 safety deposit boxes.

The burglars had broken into an elevator shaft, abseiled down to the vault where they used heavy cutting equipment to drill through a thick concrete wall.

Hatton Garden, in the heart of London, has been home to the gem trade for centuries and has almost 300 dealers and more than 50 jewellery shops.

Police, who admitted they had failed to send any officers when a burglar alarm sounded in the safety deposit building, have since said they have recovered significant amounts of high value property which they were confident had been taken from the vault.

Five other men, aged between 42 and 60, denied the conspiracy to burgle charge on Friday and are due to go on trial later this year.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison