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    Feb 26

    Brussels AirportWhen you lose your luggage it may be inconvenient, but it will rarely cost you $50 million. That’s exactly what happened when one payload – a cargo hold of diamonds – was stolen in a well-planned theft that left Brussels Airport security officials stunned and asking questions. In a surreal “Ocean’s Eleven” type maneuver, an armed gang of eight pulled off this escapade with only minutes in between the loading of the plane and its departure. Unfortunately, the cost of the diamonds is not the only price the theft has left to be paid.  The hit to the reputation of the Brussels Airport security, and the diamond industry that relies on it for safe passage, has been severe.

    An Inside Job

    In an act of exquisite criminal professionalism, the masked men were able to penetrate the airport’s security fence at just the right time to make a mad dash towards flight LX789 where a Brinks truck was busy loading the stones into the cargo hold. As the airplane crew made their final inspections, the robbers accosted them waving firearms and demanding that the diamonds be unloaded and put in their getaway vehicle. The gang swiftly departed the same way they came in, leaving no one injured and no other flight delayed. The bold heist netted them at least $50 million in just a few short minutes, leaving officials red-faced and suspecting it was an inside job.

    Well Timed and Well Dressed

    The group was outfitted in dark police clothing, which helped them to blend into the high security detail. Upon breaching the security fence, two vehicles sped forward on “official business” with blue lights flashing to keep up appearances. It may have been this display of authority that enabled the criminals to speed in, rob the plane in a record three minutes, and leave only minutes after. After the successful heist, police spotted a burnt out vehicle near the airport that may have been used in the crime. Nevertheless, authorities currently don’t have any suspects in hand.

    Reputation and Trust Lost

    After such a massive breach of security and loss of revenue, the diamond industry is afraid that more heists will follow. Antwerp, only minutes from Brussels, is the biggest rough-diamond trading center in the world. 80% of the worlds diamond business transactions are done there. Brussels Airport is a main hub for transporting diamonds to other countries, like Switzerland, where they are cut, polished and made ready for the marketplace. The diamonds lifted in the heist were en route to Zurich before they were stolen. Diamond merchantsmust be able to rely on the security of the Brussels Airport; fear that the robbery may have been an inside job has caused a loss of reputation and trust for the airport’s security measures within the diamond trading community. After this shocking caper, one thing is for certain: it’s certainly no longer business as usual in Antwerp.

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