Burglars plunder Verizon's London data centre

Burglars plunder Verizon's London data centre

Summary: Disguised as policemen, criminals conned their way into a Verizon Business data centre last week and stole IT equipment, say the police

TOPICS: Security

Criminals posing as policemen conned their way into a data centre near London's King's Cross station, tying up staff and stealing computing equipment, the Metropolitan Police said on Friday.

The theft was undertaken at 9.17pm on Thursday when between three and five men, dressed as policemen, gained entry to the data centre by claiming there were reports of people on the roof of the building.

The men tied up five members of staff at the data centre before stealing computing equipment that included motherboards, said the Metropolitan Police in a statement.

Police officers were called to the data centre by a member of staff at 10.06pm. The staff members were unhurt but one had to be treated at the scene for shock.

There have been no arrests yet but the investigation into the incident has been transferred from Camden Criminal Investigation Department to the Serious and Organised Crime Command (SCD7), which has "a greater capacity for specialist investigations", according to a Metropolitan Police spokesperson.

The data centre is run by telecommunications company Verizon Business, sources close to the situation confirmed.

At the time of writing, Verizon could not confirm the value of the equipment stolen or whether any of its clients had suffered downtime or loss of data due to the incident.

Verizon Business said that on Thursday at approximately 9.17pm its data centre had "experienced an equipment related incident."

"Verizon Business services remained operational during this period," said a Verizon statement. "Verizon Business continues to work with all appropriate groups in undertaking a thorough investigation of the incident. It is not appropriate to comment further at this time."

Reports circulating on the internet last week that JPMorgan, a customer of Verizon Business, had been affected by the burglary were incorrect, according to a source at the investment bank. There has been no loss of service or data, said the source.

In October 2006 another London data centre, owned by Level 3, was broken into. Several router cards were stolen in that incident, which severely disrupted voice and data communications in the capital.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • Nasty

    That had to be horrid for the members of staff.

    Begs many questions about security of datacentres and it highlights the fact that criminals will using social engineering to reach their goals.
  • How secure are data centres?

    Yes, the robbery does pose many questions about data centre security. Whenever I've visited a data centre, it's been darn difficult to get in - and I've usually been accompanied by a senior exec from the data centre provider. I can't help imagine, though, that some of this security, whenever I've been there, is just for show. Data centre providers _love_ to hype the security of their buildings. But these robberies only go to show that the reality is different. Welshtroll, I think you're right in saying that it's usually ID theft or fraud that is the reason for these security breaches. It could be argued that it's down to data centre staff to check identification and adopt security procedures properly. But with the number of staff going in and out of datacentres 24 hours a day, this can be really difficult. Let's hope there's not too many more incidents like this.
  • canny crooks, they always find a way!

    Poor Verizon, they thought they were safe, they probably expected all threats to be cyber attacks, they invested heavily in online security, and in the process, they compromised Real life security!

    Well Verizon, some crooks are not smart enough to mount a cyber attack, that doesn't mean you're safe from them!
  • Unbelievable !!

    This is something which has me completely stumped....
    What kind of a security is configured for a location as sensitive as a DC ?
    You can put all the systems in place to guard against a cyber attack but if you cant stave off a physical attack boy thats big trouble