While the global jewelry market keeps on heating up the less than savory characters have been really coming out of the woodwork's. While there hasn't been anything quite as wild as say the Italian Job pulled off we've seen a few heists that have come pretty close this year.
We scoured the news from the past year to find the most bizarre cases we could find and thanks to Google we were not disappointed. Everything from $10,000 drills to men dressed up in middle eastern garments all just to get their hands on some fine precious jewels.
Twice over the four-day Easter holiday weekend, seven men entered an office building in the middle of London, England's jewelry district which housed Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. They disabled an elevator, climbed down the shaft, and used a drill costing between $6,400 and $8,700 to cut a hole measuring 10 inches by 18 inches through a wall consisting of 20 inches of reinforced concrete to reach a vault containing safety deposit boxes. One alarm was transmitted to a computerized dispatching device on April 3, but it had a "grade" that indicated no police response was required. The estimated take -- from several hundreds of thousands of dollars to $300 million -- would have been a nice return on the cost of the drill, if that was purchased, but all seven men have been captured.
On September 15, two men used Middle-Eastern style disguises as they robbed a Rockville, Maryland jewelry store of items estimated to be worth $110,000. One wore a short, dark, fake beard and a white "Middle Eastern-style” hat. The other wore a full-length, long-sleeved black robe. Witnesses nevertheless identified the bearded man as Hispanic and judged the other to be either white or Hispanic from views of his arms as he emptied jewelry display cases. The FBI in Baltimore, Maryland is offering a $5,000 reward.
Just prior to the Cannes Film Festival, top jewelers ship their best collections to town for celebrities who might wear the jewelry as they walk Cannes beachfront promenade, the Croisette. So, on May 6, just one week before the opening of the festival, four men robbed a Cartier boutique. They filled a jewelry bag and a leather satchel with expensive watches and jewelry, but dropped several watches as they hurried to escape in a stolen Mercedes. The burned out car was found in a residential area of Cannes. Police are attempting to use security cameras to identify the thieves.
In mid-March, a group of around 15 well-informed, heavily-armed, masked men in four vehicles trapped two armored trucks filled with art and jewelry worth €9 million (£6.3 million) around midnight at a toll booth on the A6 motorway about 125 miles southeast of Paris. The men used gas to force the four drivers, two in each armored vehicle, from their trucks, quickly emptied the vehicles, set fire to them, and then sped toward Paris in their own vehicles. The police believe the men belong to an organized crime network.
Police in Portland, Oregon, ended a string of 27 heists that spanned eight or nine states and 16 to 18 months. Police arrested Victor Lupis on a tip that he had stolen $150,000 in diamonds from a Portland jewelry store. During his interrogation, Lupis began naming names and telling tales. Portland police checked social media for the names Lupis gave them and found numerous pictures of the men wearing expensive clothes and taking luxurious trips. With the online photographs for identification, they compared notes with police in the jurisdictions Lupis named and connected all of the robberies. Clues eventually led police to a rental home in Salem, Oregon, and the two leading members of the theft ring. Lupis has completed his sentence, but the rest remain imprisoned.
In February, eight people were convicted of the 2008 robbery of a Harry Winston jewelry store in Paris. During the theft, which took less than 20 minutes, three cross-dressing gunmen who wore stockings, high heels, skirts, and silky wigs made off with $92 million in merchandise which included hundreds of pieces of jewelry and watches. Many of these items have never been found.
In April, a Taiwanese woman, a jewelry collector who had recently purchased Chanel jewelry worth €5 million (£3.6 million) was robbed when her car slowed in heavy traffic in a tunnel on the A1 motorway between Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and central Paris in the Seine-Saint-Denis area northeast of the city. Thieves habitually lurk in the area for such opportunities. The woman had planned to present the jewelry to a Paris museum.
What will jewelry thieves attempt next? Stay tuned here.