Five arrested in Belgium, suspected of diamond theft

Five Brussels airport employees have been arrested on suspicion of stealing diamond shipments worth 1.5 million euros ($1.48 million), Belgian authorities said Saturday, Sept. 7, Reuters reported.

The five, who worked as baggage handlers, were arrested following several months of investigation, the Federal Police said.

The arrests were made after police caught one of the alleged robbers in the act, the authorities said. Authorities were then able to track down the other four suspects, Reuters reported. Following a serious of raids in both Brussels and the southern city of Namur, police found diamonds and 60,000 euros in cash.

The diamonds, shipped in postal bags, were stolen as they were being loaded onto aircraft, with most of the shipments stolen on flights to Zurich, Geneva, Madrid and Stockholm. The authorities suspect the diamonds were stolen from about 20 flights. The remaining contents of the bags were then thrown away or hidden in the airport.

The police said they still had to determine where exactly the diamonds came from, Reuters reported.

Belgium’s $23-billion diamond industry, the world’s biggest, is based in the port town of Antwerp. Belgium distributes 80% of the global production of uncut diamonds.