NPR : News

Filed Under:

Quite A Haul: $50 Million Worth Of Diamonds Stolen In Lightning-Fast Heist

In a heist right out of movies such as The Italian Job, eight masked gunman drove on to the tarmac at Brussels' international airport Monday night, sped to a plane being loaded with diamonds and made off with about $50 million worth of the precious stones, authorities say.

It was all over in just a few minutes.

"What we are talking about is obviously a gigantic sum," says Caroline De Wolf of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. She says the diamonds were "rough stones" being transported from Antwerp to Zurich.

According to The Guardian:

"The raid at Brussels airport happened just before 8 p.m. ... The heavily armed men drove through the airport security fence in two vehicles, a Mercedes van and a car, and made straight for a Brink's delivery van. The staff were loading safes full of diamonds on to a ... plane bound for Zurich. The gunmen quickly filled their vehicles with the boxes and fled through the same broken security barrier. No shots were fired. A burned-out van was later found nearby. The raid lasted just three minutes."

Now, what will the thieves do with their loot? If the past is any guide, they won't get anywhere near $50 million — provided they aren't caught. They may already have made arrangements with some less-than-scrupulous dealers who will try to unload the diamonds at a deep discount.

In November 2011, the New York Post profiled FBI Special Agent Dan McCaffrey, the bureau's "expert on gems and the crooks who steal them." The Post wrote that:

"When $14 million in loose diamonds vanished in Belgium, McCaffrey became part of the pack of investigators chasing the thieves around the world.

"McCaffrey soon zeroed-in on a diamond dealer who had set up shop on W. 47th Street, in the Diamond District, and who was selling stones at 30% of market value.

"He discovered that the Manhattan jeweler had been hired to unload the hot rocks by the son of the Belgian who reported the theft. McCaffrey locked up the son and his fence, recovered the diamonds — and personally flew them back to Belgium and the rightful owner."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Aretha Franklin Blocks Premiere Of Concert Film 'Amazing Grace'

A documentary about Franklin's famous 1972 live album Amazing Grace has suffered years of delays due to technical and legal challenges.
NPR

Open Your Eyes To The Infinite Possibility Of The Tomato

How do you transform 100 pounds of 60 varieties of tomatoes into a seven-course meal? It may sound like a math problem, but it's more a creative journey into the infinite possibility of the tomato.
NPR

British Prime Minister Announces U.K. Will Take In More Migrants

NPR's Robert Siegel speaks with Guardian political editor Patrick Wintour about British Prime Minister David Cameron's announcement to allow more Syrian refugees into the UK.
NPR

Drone Crash At U.S. Open; New York City Teacher Arrested

The black, shoebox-sized drone flew over the court at Louis Armstrong Stadium during a second-round match and then crashed into empty seats and broke apart.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.