World's biggest diamond robbery foiled.
November 7, 2000 9:38 AM   Subscribe

World's biggest diamond robbery foiled. Yeah, this could have been serious, but it's straight out of The Thomas Crown Affair. Break through the Dome's gates with a JCB, sneak into the vault, escape on a powerboat. It's almost a pity that the Sweeney was there to foil it.
posted by holgate (6 comments total)
I hadn't realized that the Japan Commerce Bank did ditch-diggers in addition to credit cards.

Pity I don't speak sufficiently fluent British to follow the whole story. :-}
posted by baylink at 10:25 AM on November 7, 2000

baylink: Big. Yellow. Different ;-)

And, for further elucidation, look no further than here.

I love this story: they switched the diamonds for fakes, dressed the police up as cleaners, and waited for the thieves to break into the vault before rounding them up. Even better was the comment made by the Chief Inspectory of the Flying Squad tonight on the radio: "Well, to be honest, I think they were amateurs."

posted by holgate at 11:31 AM on November 7, 2000

They should have used their flying power more. What's the use of being the Flying Squad if you don't use your flying power in a high-profile bust like this one? The public's liable to forget you even possess the power of flight. Imagine if Superman walked everywhere even though he could fly.
posted by kindall at 11:51 AM on November 7, 2000

Of course, what they're not telling us is how it is that they knew the robbery was coming. Given that they'd substituted glass for the real jewels and had all the cops in position, it's evident they knew every detail of the plan. How? We'll probably never know.

The story claims that the jewels couldn't have been sold. But a diamond can be broken down, and commonly when a really big stone is stolen what happens is that they break it up into several smaller ones and sell them independently. "Half a loaf is better than no loaf at all." But I think even that would be hard, because these days anyone trying to sell a rather large stone (and these would be) pretty much has to be able to prove that they own it legitimately -- especially in the interval after a really big robbery.

No, in fact their best plan, had they succeeded, would have been a ransom request. That's been done with famous paintings, for instance. ("Deposit ten million pounds in thus and so numbered account in the Caribbean and then we'll tell you where to find the stones once we confirm the money is there.")

Also, sometimes they have worked a deal out ahead of time with some wealthy and unscrupulous private collector. The painting "The Scream" has never been recovered and there was never any sign or hint of it on the black market; the guess is that the burglars already had a client ready before they even did the job.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:25 PM on November 7, 2000

Um, "The Scream" was recovered three months after it was stolen: it's back in the Munch Museum now.

The most cinematic successful theft in recent memory actually took place in Oxford on New Year's Eve. Amid the fireworks and celebrations, a thief managed to get away with a Cezanne painting after abseiling from the roof and letting off smoke bombs to hide himself from security cameras.
posted by holgate at 1:02 PM on November 7, 2000

It is not widely appreciated, but even the Swiss, if you take them a ransom note, will tell you who the money belongs to. They'll *keep* the money, of course, but it has been proven that they will not protect criminals.
posted by baylink at 1:55 PM on November 7, 2000

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