Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Girls Best Friend? $50M Diamond Heist at Brussels Airport

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Brussels Airport authorities said has confirmed that at 19.47 on Monday, a ?gang of robbers managed to break through a fence at the airport with two cars and stole diamonds worth an estimated US$50 million, according to a spokesperson for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC).

The diamonds were among high-value goods being unloaded from an airplane belonging to the Swiss airline.

"The men in the car rode to a Swiss airplane where they stole valuable goods," Brussels Airport reported on its Facebook page. "There was no shooting and no one got injured. This lasted only a few minutes and after that, they left the airport domain through the damaged fence.

"The police has started a thorough investigation and the airport police is currently taking all the necessary actions. An on-site investigation is being carried out as part of the judicial inquiry," the airport authority adds.

The flight went ahead as scheduled, according to the airport.

The robbers attacked a van belonging to Brink's security services that was loading the diamonds on a plane for Zurich, media reports said.

At a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday, public prosecutors said that there had been eight robbers and that they were wearing police uniforms or clothes that closely resembled those of police uniforms. They entered the airport in two black vehicles and headed directly to the Swiss aircraft where security guards were loading a valuable shipment. Each vehicle had flashing police lights.

The news conference revealed that guns were pointed at the pilot, the co-pilot and a security guard. The gangsters had machine guns, but no shots were fired, and none of the passengers was injured.

The gangsters broke open the doors leading to the hold, where they stole at least 120 parcels, including a shipment of diamonds. Police are as yet refusing to give a value for the shipment.

The news conference was told that the raid was well-prepared and professional. Members of the gang gained access to the airport by first making a hole in the fence between two containers.

A burned vehicle was later found on the outskirts of Brussels with police investigating whether it was one of the getaway cars.

Swiss airline has not commented on the robbery, saying that since the police investigation is underway it will wait for the outcome of the investigation before responding to the event.

A total of around US$200 million worth of diamonds move in and out of Antwerp every day, the AWDC spokeswoman added.


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