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All That Glitters

Famous Diamond Heists

There have been all types of famous crimes, from the Great Train Robbery to Jack the Ripper, but nothing captures the imagination like a diamond heist. Maybe it's because ice is so beautiful, or that diamonds are so valuable, or perhaps it's the extreme planning of the crime or the fact that while the thieves might get caught,  the diamonds almost never turn up. From  December 2009 until May 2011, a gang of diamond thieves ran through eight states, stealing millions from more than two dozen jewelry stores. Like something out of Netflix's Money Heist, they had nicknames and used disposable phones so the director of the crimes, who never went into the crime scenes, can guide them through the heist. They targeted older female sales representatives because they were less likely to take the hero route. In one robbery, they used a cute little chihuahua to distract the employees, and in another, they used wave runners to escape. Every move was scripted, as were the conversations they had with the salespeople. They had background stories, expensive clothing to play out the script, and the Risk Reducer, AKA the director, who would correct mistakes made. When one of the robbers left his prints on the door of a jewelry store, the Risk Reducer went back when the cops were swarming the store and wiped the door clean. They were caught when someone identified a participant caught on CCTV and the evidence was enhanced by their antics on social media where they posted pictures with the cash they got after fencing the diamonds. The money was never recovered, nor were the diamonds. Not a bad outcome for snatch and grab robbers considering most got less than ten years.

Two Members of the Ring

On Nov. 26th, 1983 there was a theft of 39 million dollars at Brinks-MAT warehouse, Heathrow Airport, London, England. The perpetrators planned a five minute cash grab robbery, but when they opened the doors to the vault, they found three tons gold and piles of cut and uncut diamonds. They had inside help from a security guard related to one of the robbers, and when they questioned him, he gave up the group. Unfortunately, they were unprepared for this big haul because they didn't have a large enough truck. The five minute robbery ended up taking over two hours. Their prison sentences ranged from a few years to 25 years and neither the gold nor the diamonds were never found. Uncut diamonds are nearly impossible to trace. This crime evolved after the robbery to encompass two murders and the collapse of Johnson Matthey Bankers Ltd. They melted down the gold and it eventually found its way back into the market. It is said that any British citizen who bought gold after 1983 is wearing gold from this robbery. There is also a curse claimed to haunt those that handled the gold and diamonds, as they have either died under unusual circumstances or were murdered.

Some of the Mat Brinks Crew

The Carlton Hotel, Cannes, France was relieved of its diamonds in August 1994, netting the perps $60 million. There was no planning involved in the actual robbery. It was done with a blitz of gunfire, terrifying everyone. The guns, however, were firing blanks. The thieves got away clean and no diamonds or fence money were ever found. On the other hand, you have the Millennium Dome, London, England robbery where the criminals were attempting to steal $700 million in diamonds in 2000. They were specifically aiming for the theft of the Millenium Star diamond having a weight of just over 203 carats, and 12 blue diamonds at a total weight of 118 carats, owned by diamond heavyweights, DeBeers. The perps smashed the glass enclosures with sledgehammers just as police arrived. They had been tipped off and had already taken possession of their speedboat exit strategy. The diamonds they were stealing had already been replaced with fakes. The good guys have to win occasionally.

Millenium Star Diamond

 The Museon Museum of Science, The Hague Dec. 1st or 2nd, 2002 was robbed in a spectacular unknown manner, and lost approximately $12 million in diamonds. The museum was putting on a huge display of gemstones to educate the public. The thieves emptied out six of the 28 display cases, taking diamonds on loan from private collections and various other museums. Although protected by CCTV and motion detectors, the perpetrators were able to complete the robbery without showing up on camera or setting off the motion detectors. The display cases, which were made of reinforced glass, showed no signs of tampering, and the 24 hr guard detail saw no one. To this day, no one knows how they did it, when they did it, or who did it.