The Global World Of Mega Heists

Fifty million dollars in diamonds stolen from a Brussels airport. We’ll look inside the global world of mega heists.

Diamond crystals (Kim-bodia/Flickr)

Diamond crystals (Kim-bodia/Flickr)

The big diamond heist last week in Brussels was brazenly bold, heavily armed and lightning fast.  Thieves dressed like police tore straight through an airport perimeter fence, blue lights flashing, at exactly the moment that a trove of diamonds was being loaded for a flight to Switzerland.

There was the plane, the diamonds, a Brinks delivery vehicle, and a lot of machine guns.  In five minutes it was done and they were gone – with diamonds valued in press reports at between $50 million and half a billion dollars.  How does that happen?

This hour, On Point:  the world of the heist.

-Tom Ashbrook


Scott Andrew Selby, Author of “Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History”.

Brian Koppelman, Screenwriter for Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), Rounders (1998), and others.

From Tom’s Reading List

CNN “Over Valentine’s Day weekend in 2003, a group of Italian thieves broke into a massive vault in the heart of Antwerp, Belgium’s diamond district and got away with an estimated $500 million worth of precious stones and diamonds. While the rest of the city was busy celebrating romance and love, these tenacious men peeled open safe deposit box after safe deposit box, leaving excess treasure on the ground like it was garbage.”

New York Times “They arrived at Brussels Airport armed with automatic weapons and dressed in police uniforms aboard two vehicles equipped with blue police lights. But their most important weapon was information: the eight hooded gangsters who on Monday evening seized diamonds worth tens of millions of dollars from a passenger plane preparing to depart for Switzerland knew exactly when to strike — just 18 minutes before takeoff.

Forcing their way through the airport’s perimeter fence, the thieves raced, police lights flashing, to Flight LX789, which had just been loaded with diamonds from a Brink’s armored van from Antwerp, Belgium, and was getting ready for an 8:05 p.m. departure for Zurich.”

Guardian “A decade ago the port city of Antwerp, the world capital of diamond-cutting, was the scene of what was probably one of the biggest diamond heists in history, when robbers took precious stones, jewels, gold and securities from the high-security vaults at Antwerp’s Diamond Center, yielding loot that police in 2003 estimated to be worth about $100 million at the time.

Monday’s heist though was a fresh blow to the Antwerp industrial diamond center which prides itself on security and discretion.”

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