$50M in Diamonds Stolen in 11-Minute Airport Heist

Masked men enter through hole in fence at Brussels airport

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 19, 2013 7:37 AM CST

(Newser) – Millions of dollars in diamonds have been stolen from a plane at Brussels' international airport yesterday in a daring heist, the AP reports. Police say the jewels were lifted by eight masked men who, though armed, never fired their weapons. How did they pull it off? By cutting a hole in an airport fence then driving two vehicles through it and onto the tarmac, where they brandished their weapons and snatched the diamonds from the Switzerland-bound plane's hold. They then escaped with an estimated $50 million worth of diamonds in a process that was completed just 11 minutes after they entered the airport, reports the BBC.

Der Spiegel adds that the diamonds were being transported by security company Brink's in a suitcase that weighed 22 pounds. A burned vehicle was later discovered near the airport. The theft was particularly surprising given the presumed safety of flight cargo: It costs little to insure expensive materials for flights, given that robbers can't target a plane once it's on its way and airports employ a long list of security measures. An aviation security expert called the robbery worrying, due to the lack of an immediate response. That, he said, raises questions as to whether alarms were ringing in the right places.

Baggage carts make their way past a Helvetic Airways aircraft from which millions' of dollars worth of diamonds were stolen on the tarmac of Brussels international airport, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.
Baggage carts make their way past a Helvetic Airways aircraft from which millions' of dollars worth of diamonds were stolen on the tarmac of Brussels international airport, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.   (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
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