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Eight masked gunmen make off with $50 million in jewels

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 19th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In what seems like a best-selling novel or high-octane action thriller, eight masked gunmen made a hole in a security fence at Brussels\' international airport, drove onto the tarmac and snatched some $50 million worth of diamonds from the hold of a Swiss-bound plane - all without a single shot being fired.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The robbers used bogus police cars in their daring raid, grabbed the cache of stones and sped off into the darkness.

"They tried to pass themselves off as police officers," Anja Bijnens, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor\'s office says.

The gang reportedly wore outfits which resembled dark police clothing. Both cars had blue lights on top, Bijnens said. Police found one burnt-out vehicle close to the airport after the robbery and said they were still looking for clues.

The heist was estimated at some $50 million in diamonds, said Caroline De Wolf of the Antwerp World Diamond Center. "What we are talking about is obviously a gigantic sum," De Wolf said.

The jewels are believed to have belonged to diamond and gold traders in the Belgian city of Antwerp, the Belgian media reported.
 
An airport spokesman said the robbers made a hole in the perimeter fence and drove up to the Swiss passenger plane, which was ready to leave. The suspects then got out and pointed the infra-red sights of their assault rifles on terrified Brink\'s security guards guarding an armored van before taking the loot in two locked metal trunks from the hold.

The group then drove off through the same hole in the fence, completing the spectacular theft within barely five minutes, Bijnens said.

Airport spokesman Jan Van Der Cruijsse could not explain how the area could be so vulnerable to theft. "We abide by the most stringent rules," he said.

The flight bound for Zurich and operated by Helvetic Airways was canceled.

The Belgian city of Antwerp ten years ago was the world capital of diamond-cutting, and was the scene of what was probably one of the biggest diamond heists in history.

Robbers took precious stones, jewels, gold and securities from the high-security vaults at Antwerp\'s Diamond Center, yielding loot that police in 2003 estimated to be worth about $100 million.

Antwerp\'s Diamond Center stands in the heart of the high-surveillance diamond district where police and dozens of cameras work around the clock.

Security has been beefed up further since the spectacular 2003 robbery - but didn't deter the planners of this most recent audacious robbery.
 

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