Operation Rize-Related Article On The Independent Website

Tuesday, Dec 01 2015 04:12 PM

Regular readers of Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes may remember my first mention of “Operation Rize” back on October 29, 2014. I blogged:

British police confiscated thousands of London safe deposit boxes back in June 2008. Tim Castle reported on the Reuters UK website on June 2, 2008:

Police seized thousands of safe deposit boxes from three vaults in central and north London on Monday after receiving intelligence they were used by criminals to store cash, guns and drugs.

Scotland Yard said officers raided vaults in Park Lane, Swiss Cottage and Edgware run by a privately run firm, Safe Deposit Centres.

Two people were arrested in the raids, which also included two other business premises and three private addresses in London and Hertfordshire.

Police sources said up to 90 percent of the boxes could contain the proceeds of crime and other illegal items such as child pornography…

Yesterday on The Independent (UK) website, an article appeared related to that police raid. Jim Armitage, City Editor, wrote:

Mayfair’s status as the most valuable property on the Monopoly board is well deserved. Its red-brick townhouses, apartment buildings and private casinos are among the world’s most exclusive.

But the central London district also has its seedier side. The lanes and alleyways around Shepherd Market host a plethora of private detective agencies and tax firms catering for the billionaire international local traffic. Not to mention a fair sprinkling of brothels.

For many years, also catering for the wealthy set, in a tall office building on nearby Park Street was a business housing safe deposit boxes. Here, in return for a copy of your passport and £1,500 a year, you could hire a lockable 72cm square box, no questions asked, to store whatever took your fancy.

In the boom times before the financial crisis, business for the Park Lane Safe Deposit Centre was brisk. Russians, Europeans and Americans flocked through its doors to store valuables and cash that, for reasons of their own – not always honest – they didn’t want to leave in traditional banks…

Armitage went on to talk about when the private vault belonging to Safe Deposit Centres was raided:

The Metropolitan Police raided the Park Lane Safe Deposit Centre and its sister site in north London, using angle grinders on the hinges to open all of its boxes on suspicion that criminals were using them to hide the proceeds of crime.

Operation Rize uncovered an Aladdin’s cave of drugs, weapons, diamonds and, in one box in Park Lane, paedophile images…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

While one might get the impression reading the above that the use of private vaults and their safe deposit boxes is often for illegal purposes (“seedier,” “sprinkling of brothers,” “not always honest” helps set this scene?), I remind readers of what I wrote back on January 6, 2015:

According to the BBC and London Evening Standard in two 2011 articles about the event:

• Law enforcement forced open 6,717 safe deposit boxes belonging to Safe Deposit Centres, a private vaulting company
• Only 3,554 boxes were found to contain anything
• [Safe Deposit Centres owner/director Milton] Woolf’s barrister, Andrew Bodmar, pointed out, “In court in 2008 the police said 82% of customers were suspicious.”
• But the vast majority of the 6,717 box renters turned out to be innocent, with only 30 people ever convicted of wrongdoing

“Aladdin’s cave” of illegal items?


Rather, as the results of the Operation Rize “fishing expedition” (as some have come to call it) suggest, more mundane, lawfully-owned possessions and valuables are likely to be socked away in safe deposit boxes within private, non-bank vaults.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)


Armitage, Jim. “David H Brooks and the mystery of the £2m found at Park Lane Safe Deposit Centre.” The Independent (UK). 30 Nov. 2015. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-mystery-of-the-2m-found-in-a-safe-which-nobody-wants-to-claim-a6752231.html). 1 Dec. 2015.

This entry was posted in ConfiscationContentsCrimeEuropeGovernmentMythPrivate Safe Deposit BoxesPrivate Vaults and tagged  on December 1, 2015.