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  • Writer's pictureValerieBound

Stolen Jewels – Made for Hollywood!

I just saw Ocean’s 8 so stealing jewelry is on my mind. Then I read about the brazen theft of the Swedish Crown Jewels. Two thieves grabbed the jewels in broad daylight and sped off in a motorboat! Wow! And the police still haven’t found them.

I love heist movies for some good escapism, but at the end of the day, stealing is not the kind of activity I want to root for. Most of the time, your robbers are not nearly as handsome as George Clooney or Brad Pitt and the tricks aren’t as cool, either. But there have been been some recent heists that come pretty close.

<img class=" wp-image-4562 lazyload" src="" alt="Go see this movie!" width="741" height="393" srcset=" 750w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 741px) 100vw, 741px" /> Go see this movie!

When you’re stealing jewelry, you have to be both smart and daring. I say daring because that’s what you need to pull off the heist. But the second part is actually harder. You have to lie low and try to sell your jewels. That’s pretty tricky, and requires some smarts.

I put together a list of three jewelry heists that are made for Hollywood. They’re all recent, and involve some real imagination. They also have lots of unanswered questions, like who did it and where’s the loot. Anyway, some pretty interesting stories here, so I thought I’d share.

Here we go!

2002 – Museum of Science, The Netherlands

Loss: $12 million in stolen jewelry

When this theft took place, the museum was showing an exhibit called Diamond: From Rough Rock to Gem. It had all sorts of diamond jewelry from both royal and private collections. The museum had 24-hour surveillance cameras, security guards, alarms, and motion detectors. Some of the displays even had reinforced glass for extra protection.

On a Tuesday in December 2002, the museum staff came to work and discovered 28 empty display cases. The only sign of violence was one single smashed window. Unfortunately, with the museum closed on Sundays and Mondays, the thieves were already one step ahead.

Police suspected an inside job. No alarms had gone off, and nothing showed up on the video footage. To this day, none of the jewels have shown up and no arrests have been made. The police eventually had no choice but to close the case.

In my opinion, there’s enough unknown about this crime for Hollywood to create a really great story around it!

<img class="size-full wp-image-4553 lazyload" src="" alt="Museum of Science, The Hague " width="507" height="380" srcset=" 507w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 507px) 100vw, 507px" /> Museum of Science, The Hague

2003 – Diamond Center, Antwerp, Belguim

Loss: $100 million in stolen diamonds & jewels

You may not know, but Antwerp has long been a worldwide center for diamonds. Since way back in medieval times, it was known as the place to get your diamonds cut and polished. In fact, the vast majority of diamonds sold in the world today still go through Antwerp. So there’s a lot of wealth in this city. Making it the perfect place to plot your jewelry heist.

Of course, Antwerp is no stranger to thieves. As you would imagine, they take all the normal precautions, and then some. They even have a special police force just for the diamonds! However, the entire city was shocked when an underground diamond vault was robbed in what’s considered the biggest jewelry heist in Antwerp’s history.

How did this happen?

The stealing happened over long weekend, Valentine’s Day in 2003. The underground diamond vault had almost 200 separate security boxes for their customers. Their customers probably felt their goods were secure. After all, there were ten layers of security! Just on the door alone (which was one foot thick and made of steel!) to enter the vault, you had to get past an external security camera, a magnetic sensor, locked steel grate, built-in seismic sensor, a keyed lock and a combination dial. Once you got past that, inside the vault there was another security camera, a heat and motion sensor, a light sensor, and a keypad.

When the special diamond police arrived after a frantic phone call, they couldn’t believe their eyes! Almost every box had been emptied. The detectives tripped over a diamond bracelet. In fact, gems and jewelry were scattered all over the floor. Incredibly, it looked like the thieves had run out of time to collect everything!

<img class="size-full wp-image-4573 lazyload" src="" alt="What greeted the police when they arrived" width="630" height="454" srcset=" 630w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 630px) 100vw, 630px" /> What greeted the police when they arrived

The mastermind

Leonardo Notarbartolo, an Italian, was arrested soon after. He had been posing as a gem trader to get access to the vault. From what the police put together, this crime took years of planning and was filled with colorful characters who had names like the King of Keys, Speedy, the Genius, and the Monster.

The key to their downfall was that they had intended to burn their trash, but they got spooked. So instead, they just left it in what they thought was an abandoned area. Of course, it wasn’t abandoned, the property owner called the police, and now there was a lot of circumstantial evidence tying them to the crime (receipts, a sandwich, tiny diamonds, etc.). Like good thieves, most everyone denied most everything. Leo got 10 years. The others got 5. Except the King of Keys. He got away.

Where are the stolen goods?

Even though Leo was sentenced to 10 years, he was released in March of 2009. Leo has never said a word about where the rest of the loot is. However, in July of 2009, he was arrested with over two pounds of rough, uncut diamonds. Of course, he said they’re his, and he bought them legitimately. Right…… color me a bit skeptical.

This particular tale has enough intrigue and mystery that it already has a book.

[easyazon_infoblock align=”center” cart=”n” identifier=”B0751FR9SF” locale=”US” tag=”vathgega-20″]

And it looks like Hollywood agrees that this story would make as excellent film. After obtaining the rights to the story, J.J. Abrams is expected to produce it, and word on the street is that he’s already hired a screenwriter.

2015 – Hatton Garden, London, England

Loss: Over $300 million in stolen gems & jewelry

This is the most recent heist on the list. You may even remember it being in the news! This was a carefully planned, completely brazen theft that took place over Easter weekend in 2015. Hatten Garden is an area of London known for its jewelry quarter, or diamond district. Hatton Garden has more than 300 jewelry-related companies and 60 retail jewelry shops. And so, for obvious reasons, there’s a company that will provide secure boxes for you to store your most valuable possessions.

<img class=" wp-image-4584 lazyload" src="" alt="Where it all went down" width="791" height="535" srcset=" 900w, 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 791px) 100vw, 791px" /> Where it all went down

Geriatric thieves

London was stunned when they heard about this crime. It was another supposedly impenetrable place, with the theft occurring over a holiday weekend. So they immediately felt like the criminals must be young strong whipper-snappers. After all, the burgers had rappelled down an elevator shaft and drilled through a thick concrete wall to steal from the vault without leaving a forensic trace.

Imagine everyone’s surprise when the arrests occurred six weeks later. The youngest burger was 63 years old! The mastermind of the crime was a former thief looking for one last big score. His name was Brian Reader, and he was 76.

Although the thieves had done the seemingly impossible, they were undone by two security cameras they hadn’t counted on. The police were able to get a license plate, which led them to one of the gang, and then the others. The thieves were busy trying to both hide and offload their loot, which makes for some hilarious reading. One buried gems in a cemetery. Another stored their jewelry in casserole dishes in their kitchen. In some cases, they took really low prices just to get rid of their stolen goods.

<img class=" wp-image-4580 lazyload" src="" alt="The hole drilled to access the vault" width="749" height="527" srcset=" 968w, 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 749px) 100vw, 749px" /> The hole drilled to access the vault

The aftermath

The Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company never recovered. They went out of business in 2015. The trial for this robbery happened in 2016. The ringleader, Brian Reader, was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months. Other members of the gang were sentenced to seven years. One member was acquitted. One of the robbers died in prison.

Hollywood comes calling

Hollywood, not surprisingly, realized the movie potential of this great story. The film, King of Thieves, comes out next month! And it starts Michael Caine as the ringleader of the thieves. Take a look at the preview, it looks pretty good!

My final recommendation

By the way, I highly recommend Ocean’s 8. It’s smart and funny, and I love all the actresses in the film! Plus, it’s nice to look at beautiful jewelry for a couple hours!

<img class=" wp-image-4574 lazyload" src="" alt="Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett" width="501" height="752" srcset=" 634w, 200w" sizes="(max-width: 501px) 100vw, 501px" /> I love these two!


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