'Gigantic' diamond heist at Brussels airport worth £30m
Gang cut hole in perimeter fence and stole gems as they were loaded onto plane
DIAMONDS worth tens of millions of pounds were stolen in a daring runway robbery at Brussels international airport on Monday.
A gang of eight thieves cut a hole in the perimeter fence at the airport and drove two vehicles up to the Swiss passenger plane as the gems were being loaded from a Brinks security van. Initial reports suggested that the stolen diamonds were worth as much as £300m, but it is now thought that their value is around £30m.
Sky News reported that the missing gems were "rough stones" being transported from Antwerp to Zurich. A spokeswoman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre said the heist was one of the biggest ever. "What we are talking about is obviously a gigantic sum," she added.
The Guardian reported that the raid took less than five minutes and, although the robbers were armed, no shots were fired. The gang "took the cache of gems and drove off into the darkness", the paper said.
Questions have been raised about how the gang was able to gain access to the airport so easily and Yahoo! has reported claims that the raiders disguised themselves as police officers. The gang "wore outfits which resembled dark police clothing and both cars had blue lights on top”.
The Swiss flight, operated by Helvetic Airways, was cancelled after the robbery. A burnt-out van was found close to the airport and authorities are looking for more clues.
The raid is one of the biggest jewel heists in Europe in recent years. The biggest ever was in 2003 when a gang raided the vaults of the Antwerp diamond centre and escaped with loot worth more than £60m.
But the raid in Brussels most closely resembles the Lufthansa heist of 1978, immortalised in the gangster film Goodfellas, in which a cargo of cash was seized at JFK airport in New York.