The Millennium Dome Heist
Two of the ‘likely robbery days’ resulted in aborted attempts. On the first, in early October, the boat was malfunctioning and on the second attempt, the day before the actual robbery, they misjudged the tides, which were too low to ensure a safe getaway, and they aborted at the last minute, although the police took the precaution of substituting the real gems with the fake crystals. The police were convinced that the next day, 7 November 2000, would be the heist day, and the Dome was flooded with undercover policeman, disguised as Dome employees.
At 9.30 am that morning the plot was afoot, with all of the villains in place. Meredith in the getaway boat on the Thames outside the Dome, Millman in a van nearby, and four more men in a JCB earth-digger, which would be used to break through the perimeter fence and punch a hole in the side of the Dome itself. The occupants of the JCB were in body armour, wearing gas masks and armed with smoke bombs, sledgehammers and nail guns to penetrate the security glass protecting the exhibit.
Having successfully broken through into the vault area using the JCB, and discharging their smoke bombs, the police overwhelmed the gang through sheer force of numbers. They were able to apprehend most of those involved, seven in all, without firing any weapons, including the boat pilot, Millman in his van, and a number of others who were waiting further downriver in Kent.
The largest robbery in history was over almost before it had begun and the real Millennium Jewels were nowhere near the Dome at the time. Disruption to the public was restricted to the temporary closure of the North Greenwich Underground station, and later that morning the Dome was opened for visitors as usual.