$50 Million Diamond Heist; Brussels Cargo Plane Looted In Under Five Minutes

By iScienceTimes Staff on February 19, 2013 10:33 AM EST

A $50 million diamond heist may turn out to be one of the biggest robberies of all time, and the entire job took less than five minutes. Police in Brussels reported that a gang of eight men cut a hole in a security fence at Brussels' international airport and used a fake police car and police disguises to hold up a Brink's armored truck that was loading the $50 million in diamonds onto a plane. Eight masked men with machine guns held the ground staff, crew and passengers at gunpoint as they forced security workers to open the plane's cargo door. The men removed more than 120 packets of diamonds in the $50 million diamond heist, then got back into their vehicles and sped off.

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"It was well-prepared and very professional," Belgian prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch told reporters. "The whole operation took just a few minutes."

The $50 million in diamonds were being shipped from Antwerp, long regarded as the diamond capital of the world. Diamonds traded in Antwerp account for 80 percent of uncut and 50 percent of cut diamonds sold worldwide, and last year alone the city processed more than $50 billion worth of diamonds. Diamonds purchased in Antwerp for either cutting or sale abroad are usually taken to the Brussels airport under police escort in armored security vans and the thieves took advantage of a brief gap in this tightly guarded procedure during the loading of cargo. Security, obviously, is a top priority in the trade which is making this heist all the more impressive, and baffling, to police officials.

"The fact that this happened is a big problem for us. We have our number one position to defend. Security is obviously very important," Caroline De Wolf, a spokeswoman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, told the New York Times. "We are shocked by the fact this could ever happen. We are all wondering: how is this possible?"

Authorities said that one of the vehicles used in the theft was found later, but had been set on fire in an effort to destroy any lingering forensic evidence. No shots were fired and no arrests have been reported in the $50 million diamond heist.

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