Robbers pull off huge diamond heist at Brussels airport

BRUSSELS Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:53pm IST

1 of 3. Airport security guards and officials stand near an entrance to the tarmac at Zaventem international airport near Brussels February 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Vidal

Related Topics

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Robbers dressed as police and armed with machineguns have stolen 120 parcels of diamonds worth millions of dollars from the runway of Brussels Airport in one of the biggest heists the industry has seen.

Two vehicles carrying eight men drove up to a van belonging to security firm Brinks, which had just finished loading the diamonds into a Swiss passenger plane, on Monday evening, officials said.

The men, who were masked but also wore police uniforms, did not fire a single shot and the entire heist took less than five minutes, said Ine Van Wymersch, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor's office.

They escaped and are now being hunted by police.

"They were well prepared," Van Wymersch said. "There were passengers on the plane but they saw nothing of what was going on.

Prosecutors said they could not yet comment on how much the diamonds taken were worth or to whom they belonged.

Belgian state broadcaster VRT reported the total value was 350 million euros. A spokeswoman for the Antwerp Diamond Centre said the value may be closer to $50 million.

"In any case it's one of the biggest robberies we've seen," she said.

Antwerp has been a leading diamond centre for centuries, with some eight in every 10 rough diamonds, and five in every 10 polished diamonds, passing through it.

Both vehicles sped off after the robbery and one was later found burnt just outside of Brussels.

The robbers managed to get onto the tarmac after breaking through the fence that surrounds the airport, an airport spokesman said. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Top News

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Diwali Glitter

Diwali Glitter

Gold sales jump about 20 pct for Diwali - trade body  Full Article 

Microsoft Earnings

Microsoft Earnings

Microsoft sales beat Street hopes, cloud profits up.  Full Article 

Canada Shooting

Canada Shooting

Canada Parliament gunman had planned to travel to Syria - police.  Full Article 

New World Bank Rival

New World Bank Rival

Three major nations absent as China launches World Bank rival in Asia  Full Article 

Assault on Pires?

Assault on Pires?

ISL probes allegation of assault on Pires  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Mali becomes sixth West African nation hit by Ebola.  Full Article 

Climate Deal

Climate Deal

EU strikes compromise to set new climate target.  Full Article 

Kalki Interview

Kalki on Margarita

Kalki on her role in “Margarita, With a Straw”  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage