The great Belgium diamond heist is a robbery straight out of Hollywood. The facts about the raid on a plane at Brussels airport are just astonishing!
The well planned raid took just 3 minutes.
Eight professional thieves dressed as policemen
Loaded with machine guns with laser sights
Breached airport security and raced up to Swiss plane.
Calmly removed 22lbs of diamonds worth a cool £32 million
Second Heist in Paris grabs £2.6 Millions worth of diamonds
No shots were fired and no one was injured. The first the 22 passengers knew of the heist was when their flight was cancelled a short while later.
Antwerp, the world’s oldest and biggest diamond-trading centre, was in shock at the ease with which one of the biggest diamond robberies in history had been carried out.
To minimise exposure to theft it is usual to move diamonds by air and to load them into the hold of aircraft as late as possible before take-off. But these precautions were to no avail to this amazing heist.
It was 7.47pm local time when the gang broke through the airport’s security fence at a point between two construction sites. A Mercedes van and an Audi saloon car, both with flashing blue lights, raced up to the Swiss plane, operated by Helvetica Airways, where a Brinks security van was in the process of loading the consignment of diamonds, both cut and uncut, into the airplane’s hold. Four men wearing masks and hooded police cagoules leapt out of each vehicle and held pilots, crew and other personnel at gunpoint while they removed the precious load.
Not a shot was fired and no one was injured, and within three minutes they were back in their vehicles and heading for the hole in the fence. The Mercedes van was later found burnt out. A massive manhunt was started to trace the robbers and the other vehicle wirhin minutes of the robbery taking place.
Antwerp, where the stolen diamonds had been traded, has been the centre of the world’s diamond trade for centuries. Today 80 per cent of rough diamonds and half of polished ones are traded in the city. An expert from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre said at the time of the robbery “it is virtually impossible to trace the stolen diamonds, whether rough or polished”.
The exploit compares with the theft of diamonds worth €21m (£18m) from an Antwerp bank in 2007 by a man with a false Argentinian passport who had charmed bank staff with gifts of chocolates.
And 10 years ago three Italians and a Dutch woman succeeded in emptying 123 Antwerp bank safes of gold, diamonds and cash worth $180m. However, that gang made an elementary error. On the motorway between Antwerp and Brussels, they dumped a bin bag containing CCTV footage of the heist, security passes, and documents that named one of the members of the gang and referred to the diamond centre they robbed, all of which led to their swift capture. Belgian police will surely be hoping for a similar slip by the latest gang.
The Second Heist
Two men armed with handguns held up the De Beers stand in the Printemps department store in the early evening heist. A source close to the police inquiry said they did not fire their weapons and no one was injured.
De Beers declined to comment on the attack, and no connection, other than diamonds, has been made between Belgium and Paris robberies.