Flawless: Inside The Largest Diamond Heist In History – Scott Andrew Selby & Greg Campbell
I love a good heist story, especially ones where it is done entirely with guile rather than violence. Not that I condone thievery, but you have to have some grudging admiration for the smarts and planning that go into it.
And sometimes reality is a lot more interesting than any fictionalized tale could ever be.
Besides a good background into the world of diamonds, there is also quite a bit into how the criminals operated, specifically, one close knit group from Turin, Italy, who were the perpetrators.
Right from the start they were adamant that there would be no threats, or coercion, or violence. Instead they used painstaking observation, meticulous planning, and no small amount of courage to pull off an incredible scheme.
Besides technical know-how, they relied on the facts that they learned in two years of careful scrutiny: that despite some very formidable defences, there were chinks in the armour. And the most deadly one was the completely sloppy and lackadaisical human defences. An Italian crook with a 20 year rap sheet walked into the Antwerp Diamond Center and with no questions asked, rented an office. From there he could go anywhere in the building and watch the comings and goings. All the barriers were carefully studied as to how they could be overcome. Once the doors were locked on Friday evening, there was no human security left in the building until Monday morning. The reliance on electronic defences was deemed sufficient. Video cameras through out the building were only there to record - no one actually watched a monitor throughout the weekend. One of the most formidable, the foot thick door to the subterranean vault, was breached through the hubris of the indifferent caretakers. They noticed that they never removed the head from the foot long key that opened the vault. The head was meant to be taken with the caretaker. Having the two in separate places made it that much more difficult for any would be thief. Too much trouble to unscrew the head, so they left it attached, and put it in a box meant for just the pipe close to the vault door that could be opened with a low-tech crowbar. And worst of all, the combination that was meant to work in conjunction with the key - the caretakers were too lazy to spin the combination after they closed the door and then re-enter it in the morning. Combined with some very clever preparation and technical know-how, they were able to overcome the other defences and make off with anywhere between € 100 and 400 million.
But, the thieves were caught in short order because of their own sloppy mistake. The knife cuts both ways.
Great cat and mouse tale of a remarkable criminal escapade.