Eight masked gunmen have snatched some CHF46 million ($50 million) worth of diamonds from the hold of a Zurich-bound Helvetic Airways plane at Brussels airport without firing a shot, the Belgian authorities have announced.
The gang used two black cars in their daring raid late Monday, grabbed the cache of 120 parcels containing the stones and sped off into the darkness, said Anja Bijnens, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office.
“They tried to pass themselves off as police officers,” Bijnens added. They reportedly wore outfits which resembled dark police clothing and both cars had blue lights on top, she said.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the criminals were well prepared, and passengers on the Fokker 100 plane saw nothing of what was going on. Police later found one burnt-out vehicle close to the airport and said they were still looking for clues.
The heist was estimated at some $50 million in diamonds, said Caroline De Wolf of the World Diamond Centre in the Belgian city of Antwerp, the world capital of diamond-cutting. She added later that the shipment contained mostly uncut diamonds from Antwerp.
“What we are talking about is obviously a gigantic sum,” De Wolf said. Earlier media reports had quoted totals of up to €350 million (CHF430 million).
NOTE BY THE EDITOR: The amount involved is less than the Novartis Chairman nearly (but not quite) got as a ‘golden parachute’…