Brink’s Global Services USA is asking a Manhattan federal court to rule that it shouldn’t be on the hook for the reported $100 million in jewelry stolen from one of its armored trucks last month because the theft’s victims allegedly underreported the value of their merchandise.
The July 11 heist made worldwide headlines after jewelers told the media that between $100 million and $150 million worth of merchandise had been stolen. That would make it one of the largest jewelry thefts in U.S. history. Out of 73 bags of merchandise stored in the truck, police said 22 were taken.
However, in an Aug. 4 legal complaint seeking a declaratory judgment against 13 jewelry companies, Brink’s said that only $8.7 million in total merchandise was declared on the trailer’s pickup manifest.
“Brink’s has good reason to believe that the defendants substantially under-declared the value of their shipments on the pickup manifest,” it said.
It added Brink’s contracts limit its “liability to no more than [an item’s] declared value,” but the companies seek “to recover more from Brink’s than is permitted under [their] contracts.”
It asked the court to rule that “Brink’s is not liable for the loss of those defendants who failed to…‘properly and accurately’ describe the actual monetary value of [their] property.”
Jewelers’ Security Alliance president John Kennedy declined comment on this specific case but tells JCK, as a general rule, “even when you are using very secure shipping methods such as Brink’s, you need enough insurance to cover the value of your goods.”
The Brink’s legal filing also provided detailed information on how the theft took place. The truck was on its way to the International Gem and Jewelry Show, a direct-to-consumer show held in Pasadena, Calif., on July 15–17. It was accompanied by two armed guards, one of whom took a nap in its sleeping berth, as per Department of Transportation regulations. The other guard drove the truck.
At approximately 2:05 a.m., the driver stopped at the Flying J Truck Stop in Lebec, Calif. He returned to the truck 27 minutes later and saw that the red plastic seal around the truck had been cut and was lying on the ground. Its rear lock was also cut.
The other guard did not see or hear anything unusual, the filing said—and there were no surveillance devices in the parking lot. Authorities are investigating.
Show director Brandy Swanson told the Associated Press that the theft has “devastated” many of its exhibitors.
“Some of these people have lost their entire livelihoods,” she said.
Brink’s and its attorneys did not return a request for comment by publication time. The jewelry companies could not be reached for comment.
The lawsuit was first reported in the New York Post.
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