The following article is published courtesy of Israeli Diamond Industry Blog
Author: Roe Kalb
In February 2003, a group of jewelry thieves succeeded in doing the impossible – breaking into the impregnable subterranean vault of the Antwerp Diamond Center. Located in the heart of Belgium’s Diamond District, the building was one of the most secure facilities in the world, with two police stations, armed patrols, extensive video surveillance and vehicle barriers protecting it.
The thieves got away with some 100,000 carats of rough and polished diamonds, 33 pounds of pure gold; millions in cash in various currencies and millions worth of securities, rare coins and jewellery – roughly amounting to $500 million in total.
The book, co-written by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell, offers detailed reconstruction of the multi-million dollar heist, covering everything from its seemingly foolproof plan to its elegant execution and the careless mistakes that became the robbers’ undoing.
Selby and Campbell focus on Leonardo Notarbartolo, a part-time jewellery designer and con-man, who rented an office in Antwerp’s Diamond Center and spent two years painstakingly gathering intelligence that the group’s security systems’ specialists later used to devise the robbery.
The genius simplicity of the plan, however, cannot overcome the simplest of dumb mistakes: some of the gang members dumped some garbage in a wooded area near the Antwerp airport, ignoring the fact that it was a wildlife reserve.
A routine rangers’ patrol found the bags and their contents eventually helped police identify a number of the thieves, including Notarbartolo.
Notarbartolo and three of his accomplices were eventually arrested, tried and jailed, but other members of the gang – and the majority of the loot – were never found.