Customer freed after being locked inside vault of NYC jewelry store

The NYPD freed a customer Wednesday morning who was trapped overnight for nearly 10 hours inside a steel-reinforced concrete vault at a New York City jewelry store.

The FDNY was called to the Midtown Manhattan building Tuesday evening after the man became trapped while trying to access his safe deposit box, Assistant Fire Chief John Sarrocco said. 

The building at 580 Fifth Avenue is known as the World Diamond Tower and houses several jewelry businesses. 

According to officials, the man dialed 911 when he realized he was trapped, police said, and within minutes – there was a huge rescue operation on the ground.

Fire and police department personnel were in communication with the man inside the vault and could watch him on a security camera.

Sarrocco said the fire department's rescue units have tools that would be able to break through the vault's 30-inch steel-reinforced concrete walls.

"The process was started to breach the wall at the vault," he said in a news conference at the scene.

After about 10 hours, Sarrocco said, the firefighters reached the steel plating and decided to hold off going any further, fearing their rescue attempts could harm the man trapped inside.

"The problem with the plating is we’d have to use our torches," he said, "which would affect the environment for that person inside the vault."

The doors opened as scheduled around 7 a.m. and the man was freed unharmed, Sarrocco said.

Sarrocco did not explain how the man became trapped.

Associated Press wire services helped contribute to this report.