Diamond heists are really fascinating. They are different from other crimes because they require a lot of skill, careful planning, and clever tricks. That's why many diamond heists remain unsolved for a long time. Here are 4 extraordinary diamond heists that have become famous in history.
1. Brink's-Mat robbery
November 26, 1983 in London, United Kingdom
On that day, something terrible happened in London. Brian Perry was shot and killed along with more than 20 other people. This tragic event became known as the "Curse of Brinks-Mat."
The curse started when a security guard named Anthony Black conspired with some other men to steal from a Brinks-Mat warehouse. The plan was simple. Anthony let his gang inside, they tied up the other security guards, and they loaded a van with diamonds, cash, and gold worth $36 million dollars.
The police caught some of the men and found some of the stolen gold in the following months. But then something strange began to happen. Many of the people involved in the heist were killed over the next 20 years. The murderers were never found, and the diamonds, cash, and almost $14 million dollars' worth of gold were never recovered.
2. The Antwerp heist
February 16, 2003 in Antwerp, Belgium
It was a cold Sunday morning in Antwerp, Belgium. The police hurried to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre when they heard alarms and found broken locks. They discovered that the biggest diamond heist of the century had taken place there.
Everything seemed normal before the heist. An Italian diamond broker rented an office in the Centre, and he seemed like a respectable person. No one suspected that he was planning to outsmart the sophisticated security sensors and locks protecting the vault in the basement. On February 15-16, he and his partners executed their plans perfectly and escaped with diamonds and other gems worth more than $100 million dollars.
The police eventually found evidence linking the Italian diamond broker, Leonardo Notarbartolo, to the heist. However, they never found his accomplices or the stolen diamonds.
3. Comtesse de Vendôme heist
March 5, 2004 in Tokyo, Japan
In Tokyo, there was a beautiful and well-dressed woman who looked like someone who would wear diamonds – even the exquisite 116 diamond Comtesse de Vendôme necklace.
She was in a jewelry boutique called Le Supre-Diamant Couture de Maki. Not to buy diamonds, but to memorize the store layout and help steal the diamonds. A few days later, her two Serbian partners entered the store in broad daylight, immobilized the staff, and within a minute, they left with the Comtesse de Vendôme necklace worth $31 million dollars.
The Tokyo police, along with Interpol, investigated the crime and caught the criminals. They believed that the thieves were part of an international theft ring called the Pink Panthers. Unfortunately, they never found the stolen necklace. It is likely that the diamonds, including the 125-carat center diamond, were recut and sold.
4. The Cannes jewel heist
July 28, 2013 in Cannes, France
In May 2013, the city of Cannes was full of excitement because of the Film Festival. Many famous people, like film directors, musicians, actors, and actresses, walked the red carpet at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. Some of them were wearing diamonds.
But two months later, the Carlton Intercontinental hotel hosted a diamond exhibition organized by Leviev, a famous diamond manufacturer. During the exhibition, a thief arrived in the middle of the day with his face hidden by a scarf. He used a handgun to control the guards and stole 72 pieces of diamond jewelry worth $127 million dollars.
The insurer offered a reward for information about the stolen jewelry, and the police conducted an intensive search. However, they never found the thief or the stolen diamonds. There were rumors that a well-known jewelry thief named Milan Poparic, who had recently escaped from prison, was behind the heist, but there was no proof.
Improved Diamond Security
Every time a diamond heist happens, security companies use it as an opportunity to study and improve their own technology. Here are four important security advances that are making diamonds safer than ever:
- Biometric safes: These safes can only be opened using fingerprint recognition. They are very secure and convenient because you don't need a key or a combination to open them.
- Relocking devices: In addition to sophisticated locks, the best security companies are installing more sensitive relocking devices in their safes. These mechanisms lock the safe again at the slightest sign of danger.
- Ultra-sensitive sensors: Vaults now have infrared and ultrasonic motion detectors, as well as seismic sensors that detect vibrations. As technology improves, these sensors can quickly detect any abnormal activity and alert the security center or owner faster.
- Wireless technology: Modern security systems use wireless technology, which makes it harder for thieves to tamper with them. Surveillance cameras and sensors can be controlled and monitored from a security center, personal computer, or even a smartphone.