Security experts and local prosecutors say the thieves that perpetrated the audacious headline-making $50 million diamond theft on Feb. 18 at the Brussels airport likely had some inside information that allowed them to precisely plan their robbery.
“I am certain this was an inside job,” Doron Levy, an expert in airport security at Ofek, told The New York Times. An Antwerp prosecutor also told the newspaper that an inside job “was an obvious possibility.”
- The eight-men gang had cars with flashing blue lights on top, to look like police vehicles.
- The thieves were masked and armed with machine guns. They waved airport staff and pilots away from the plane, and then snatched around 120 bags of diamonds from the plane’s hold.
- The theft lasted about three to five minutes. No one was injured.
- The plane’s passengers did not know there was a problem until they learned their flight had been cancelled.
- The gang left some gems behind in their rush.
- The thieves entered and exited the airport through a hole in the perimeter fence.
- Police later found a burned-out van, believed to be involved in the robbery.
“We find it hard to understand how a robbery such as yesterday’s heist could take place,” said Antwerp World Diamond Centre spokeswoman Caroline DeWolf in a statement. “We do hope additional security measures can be put in place in order to safeguard a fluent and safe transport of diamonds.”
Meanwhile, Brink’s said that it was responsible for shipping some of the diamonds involved in the theft, and expects insurance to cover its loss.
“Brink’s has notified all of its customers affected by the robbery, who will be reimbursed promptly for all confirmed losses,” a company statement said. “While Brink’s expects the loss to have a significant impact on its first-quarter earnings, the robbery does not materially affect its full-year profit forecast.”
In a release, World Federation of Diamond Bourses president Ernie Blom said, “Antwerp is a world hub for diamond traders and I trust that the Belgium authorities will do all in their power to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.”