Anywhere from four to seven men robbed a Damiani showroom in Milan Sunday morning, by tunneling into the building, and made off with millions of dollars worth of jewels, according to media reports. At the time of the robbery, the owners of the luxury jewelry chain were in Los Angeles attending the Academy Awards ceremony and the parties associated with the annual awards.
The value of jewelry stolen at the jeweler’s showroom in Corso Magenta is being estimated anywhere from $7.5 million to $30 million, according to various media reports. Damiani S.p.A., the parent company of the Damiani Group, released a brief statement Monday saying that it was to soon to determine what was stolen and its value. The company added that the jewelry is “totally covered” by Allianz and Lloyd’s of London.
The gang had spent more than a month digging a tunnel from a disused cellar in an adjoining building, the Times of London reports. Police said that the drilling had been heard for weeks but was presumed to be part of construction that the building was undergoing. The four thieves were dressed in balaclavas, sunglasses, and fake uniforms of the Guardia di Finanza and used an internal staircase to reach the first floor, thus avoiding alarms and video surveillance cameras.
The showroom had been opened for a private viewing by wealthy clients and there were five employees inside, including a cleaning lady and a member of the catering staff, as well as the manager, the newspaper reports. The thieves said they were there to check the accounts, then overpowered the staff, tied them up with electrical cable, sealed their mouths with tape and locked them in the washroom. They then helped themselves to jewelry from the safe-deposit boxes and left the way they had come.
Police said the robbery, which reportedly took place around 10:30 a.m., had taken about 40 minutes.
Investigators said that they were looking into whether the robbers had had “inside assistance” that had helped them to avoid the alarms and surveillance cameras, the Times reports.
Some of the firm’s most valuable jewels were not in the store at the time of the raid because they were being shown at the Presidential Suite of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, where Damiani hosted an Oscar party.
Guido Damiani, one of the three family members that run the company, said that he was “very shaken” by news of the raid, but added that he was relieved that no one had been hurt. Police said that the thieves had not used weapons to threaten the employees and may not even have been armed, the newspaper reports.
Staff at Damiani said that the leader of the gang had a “southern Italian” accent, the newspaper reports. The stolen pieces of diamond-studded gold jewelry included necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings.