Airport security guards secure an entrance to the tarmac at
Zaventem international airport near Brussels where robbers
dressed as police and armed with machineguns stole 120
parcels of diamonds. REUTERS/Eric Vidal
Robbers dressed as police and armed with machineguns have
stolen 120 parcels of diamonds worth millions of dollars from
the runway of Brussels Airport in one of the biggest heists the
industry has seen.
Two vehicles carrying eight men drove up to a van belonging
to security firm Brinks, which had just finished loading the
diamonds into a Swiss passenger plane, on Monday evening,
The men, who were masked but also wore police uniforms, did
not fire a single shot and the entire heist took less than
five minutes, said Ine Van Wymersch, spokeswoman for the
Brussels prosecutor's office.
They escaped and are now being hunted by police.
"They were well prepared," Van Wymersch said. "There were
passengers on the plane but they saw nothing of what was
Prosecutors said they could not yet comment on how much the
diamonds taken were worth or to whom they belonged.
Belgian state broadcaster VRT reported the total value was
350 million euros ($467 million). A spokeswoman for the
Antwerp Diamond Centre said the value may be closer to $50
"In any case it's one of the biggest robberies we've seen,"
Antwerp has been a leading diamond centre for centuries, with
some eight in every 10 rough diamonds, and five in every 10
polished diamonds, passing through it.
Both vehicles sped off after the robbery and one was later
found burnt just outside of Brussels.
The robbers managed to get onto the tarmac after breaking
through the fence that surrounds the airport, an airport