‘Ocean’s 11’ Data Center Robbery in London

Thieves impersonating policemen stole more than $4 million in equipment from a Verizon Business data center in northern London Thursday night, according to UK papers, who are describing the incident as an “Ocean’s Eleven” heist. Police are seeking three to five men, who posed as police to gain access to the facility in the King’s Cross section of London, and then tied up security guards and removed equipment, according to local media reports. The facility on St. Pancras Way has uniformed guard service, but the fake cops were able to talk their way into the facility.

“It is believed three to five male suspects, dressed as police officers, gained entry to the property at approximately 9 pm by claiming to a member of staff that they were investigating reports of people on the roof of the building,” the London Metropolitan Police said in a statement. “Five members of staff were tied up while the burglary took place.”

A spokesperson from Verizon (VZ) told The Register that the company had experienced a “service interruption” at the Kings Cross facility, but had no additional comment. Several U.S. investment banks are among the customers of the facility, but there are conflicting reports about whether their services were directly affected. The data center is about a mile north of the Kings Cross rail station, a major UK transportation hub that was featured in the “Harry Potter” novels and movies.

This is the latest in a series of data center robberies in London, following a pair of incidents late last year. On Oct. 20, 2006, equipment was stolen from Easynet’s primary data center, according to the Register, which said that the thieves were not challenged because they apparently had valid swipe cards to access the facility. Two weeks later, several router cards were stolen from a Level 3 facility, interrupting service for several customers.

More recently, armed thieves broke into a CI Host data center in Chicago on Oct. 2 of this year and stole server equipment. The intruders cut through an exterior wall, and assaulted an employee responding to the incident.

The “Ocean’s Eleven” films feature daring robberies by teams of professional thieves who use disguises, social engineering and technology to overcome advanced security at Las Vegas casinos. The original 1960 film featured a “Rat Pack” cast led by Frank Sinatra, while the 2001 remake and sequels starred George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.