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Intruder snatches keys in Tower of London security scare

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Keys to a restaurant and conference room in the Tower of London were stolen early last week. The fortress is one of London's top historic tourist attractions.

LONDON - A burglar broke into the grounds of the Tower of London - the ancient fortress that is home to the Crown Jewels - and snatched several keys before being spotted and escorted off the premises, officials said Monday.

Police are now investigating the crime, at one of the British capital's most famous landmarks.

Keys to a restaurant and conference rooms were taken last Tuesday, according to a statement from Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that runs the Tower on behalf of its owner, the queen.

The keys were stolen from a sentry box at the site, officials told The Associated Press on Monday. 

The intruder also took a key to an internal lock to the Tower drawbridges that is not accessible from the outside.

"At no point was the security of the Tower at risk," the statement said. After getting around the Tower's main gate, the intruder was captured and escorted off the premises.

Tower officials changed the affected locks immediately after the incident.

The Tower was historically guarded by Yeomen Warders - popularly known as Beefeaters - although in practice they now act as tour guides and security is provided by private contractors.

While officials maintain that security systems at the Tower are "robust," the statement admitted that proper procedures were not "carried out to the expected standard." 

"A staff disciplinary procedure is underway to address this issue," it added.

The Tower was originally built in the early 1080s.

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From Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square to the River Thames, the venerable London exudes history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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