Antwerp is still recovering from the headline-making $100 million robbery of its vaults.
Youri Steverlynk, spokesman for Belgian promotional group HRD, says many dealers are still devastated: “It was and is very emotional. Not everybody insured [their stolen diamonds]. For these people it’s a personal catastrophe,” he notes, adding that some lost pieces from family or friends had a high personal value.
At press time, four suspects had been arrested but the majority of the loot remained missing. HRD recently returned the fraction that has been recovered to its rightful owners.
“[The returned pieces] are a very limited amount compared to the total,” says Steverlynk. “Unfortunately, the robbers did a very thorough job.”
Although some of the captured suspects were from Italy, authorities no longer think the theft had a Mafia connection. “These guys were professional criminals, no doubt about that,” Steverlynk says. “But to tie them into the Mafia, that is probably a bridge too far.”