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Armed robbers dressed in police uniforms carried out a heist on the runway of Brussels Airport.
Armed robbers dressed in police uniforms carried out a heist on the runway of Brussels Airport.
 









Daring $50 million diamonds heist

Robbers armed with machine guns and disguised as police have stolen around $50 million worth of diamonds in a spectacular heist on the tarmac at Brussels airport.

The theft, more closely aligned to a Hollywood script than everyday life, took place around 8pm local time and was reportedly one of the largest robberies on record.

According to Brussels prosecutors' spokeswoman Anja Bijnens, a gang of eight thieves pulled up on the runway in two black vehicles with blue police-like markings and flashing lights.

Wearing masks, hooded police anoraks and armed with machine guns equipped with laser sights, the robbers struck just before the aircraft they sought was cleared for take-off. 

For security reasons, the valuable cargo is loaded on the runway just minutes before the plane takes off. 

The group is alleged to have cut through a security perimeter fence near the airplane, leapt from their vehicles and forced open the cargo bay doors. They proceeded to remove out about 120 packages containing mostly rough and cut diamonds, which only represented a portion of the cargo, thought to be worth around $100 million. 

The thieves then made off at high speed through the same gap in the security cordon they had opened in front of unsuspecting ground staff and travellers. Passengers on board the plane "saw nothing".

Spokeswomen for the prosecutor Anja Bijnens and Ine Van Wijmersch talk to the press.
Spokeswomen for the prosecutor Anja Bijnens and Ine Van Wijmersch talk to the press.
"No shots were fired and no-one was injured," Bijnens said of the robbery that was over "within minutes."

It appears the bandits knew exactly what they were looking for. 

"This was not a random robbery," Bijnens stated. "It was well-prepared – these were professionals."

February appears to be a month favoured by diamond thieves.

This heist is one of the largest since February 2005 when around $97 million worth of diamonds and gems being shipped to Antwerp were stolen in a KLM vehicle at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

However, the largest diamond heist on record took place in February in Belgium 10 years ago when close to $130 million worth of stones were taken from the vault of the Antwerp Diamond Centre.

Details are yet to emerge as to whom the shipment belonged or exactly what the packages contained, other than “mainly diamonds”. 

“It was incredible how easy it all went,” said Antwerp World Diamond Centre spokeswoman Caroline De Wolf. “They [diamonds] are not cut and so there is certainly no certificate. They can just be sold and will soon be gone.” 

Each day around $200 million worth of stones move in and out of Antwerp. The global diamond business is worth more than $60 billion annually. It is claimed that eight in 10 of all rough and half of all polished diamonds are traded in Antwerp.

Naturally, diamond traders – of which there are 4,500 in Antwerp – are seeking improved security measures around shipments.

WATCH REPORT



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Your Say

Belgium - is it what it looks like?
This kind of theft committed with such impunity, looks like insider information passed on to these "professionals". This is the second incident in Belgium within the last 6 months, the first one was involving approximately USD2Mn worth of polished diamonds from Kiran Exports BVBA. And if things continue like this in Belgium, it will be a matter of time before all the diamond trade moves to Dubai or any other place where they will be safer!
posted by Nagesh R Bhakta on February 20, 2013 14:53


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