Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Untold Story of the World's Biggest Diamond Heist

Joshua Davis reports for Wired on The Untold Story of the World's Biggest Diamond Heist.
In 2000, Notarbartolo rented a small office in the Diamond Center, one of the area's largest buildings. He presented himself as a gem importer based in Turin, Italy, and scheduled meetings with numerous dealers. He bought small stones, paid cash, dressed well, and cheerfully mangled the French language. The dealers probably never knew that they had just welcomed one of the world's best jewel thieves into their circle.


Notarbartolo was buzzed into the vault the next day, Friday, February 14—the day before the robbery. He was alone. In his jacket pocket, he carried a can of women's hair spray. ... It was a simple but effective hack: The oily film would temporarily insulate the sensor from fluctuations in the room's temperature, and the alarm went off only if it sensed both heat and motion.


The murky nature of the diamond trade makes it difficult to get clear answers. For instance, detective De Bruycker says that three-quarters of the business is done under the table. According to Denice Oliver, the adjuster who investigated the robbery for insurers, there were roughly $25 million in claims, all documented by legitimate invoices. As a result, De Bruycker calculated that at least another $75 million in goods was stolen, bringing the total value of the heist to about $100 million.
Leonardo Notarbartolo was just released from a Belgian prison.

No comments: