Eight masked gunmen made a hole in a security fence at Brussels international airport, drove onto the tarmac and snatched some $50 million (Rs 270 crore) worth of diamonds from the hold of a Swiss-bound plane without firing a shot.
The gang used fake police cars in their daring raid late yesterday, grabbed the cache of stones and sped off into the darkness. “They tried to pass themselves off as police officers,” said Anja Bijnens, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office.
They reportedly wore outfits which resembled dark police clothing and both cars had blue lights on top, she said. Police found one burnt-out vehicle close to the airport later that night and said they were still looking for clues.
The heist was estimated at some $50million (Rs 270 crore) in diamonds, said Caroline De Wolf of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. “What we are talking about is obviously a gigantic sum,” De Wolf said.
It is thought the goods stolen belonged to diamond and gold traders in the Belgian city of Antwerp, the Belgian media reported. An airport spokesman said the robbers made a hole in the perimeter fence and drove up to the Swiss passenger plane, which was ready to leave.
The robbers got out of the car, flashed machine guns with laser sights at pilots and security transport workers before taking the loot in two locked metal trunks from the hold, which was accessed from outside.
Without firing a shot, they drove off through the same hole in the fence, completing the spectacular theft within barely five minutes, Bijnens said. Airport spokesman Jan Van Der Cruijsse could not explain how the area could be so vulnerable to theft. “We abide by the most stringent rules,” he said. The Swiss flight, bound for Zurich and operated by Helvetic Airways, was canceled. Swiss, an affiliate of Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa AG, declined to comment on the heist, citing the ongoing judicial investigation. Recent theft of jewels worth R87 lakh from New York hotel display
Three thieves stole $2 million
(Rs 87 lakh)worth of jewels and other fine goods from a display case at the Four Seasons in New York on February 16. Sources said that two men came in through the grand front entrance of the exclusive hotel and ran up to a display case exhibiting earrings, necklaces, cufflinks, and other fineries. One of the men quickly used a sledgehammer to break the case and quickly emptied it before fleeing in their getaway car.
$100 Million Diamond heist in Belgium 10 years ago
A decade ago, Antwerp, the world capital of diamond-cutting, was the scene of what was probably one of the biggest diamond heists in history. Robbers took precious stones, jewels, gold and securities from the high-security vaults at Antwerp’s Diamond Center, yielding loot that police in 2003 estimated to be worth about $100 million. Antwerp’s Diamond Centre stands in the heart of the high-surveillance diamond district where police and several cameras work around the clock. Security has been beefed up since the robbery.