This has been quite a year in the world of high stakes jewelry heists. All over the globe, from right here in NYC’s Diamond District to the luxury boutiques of London to Thai airports to Mom ‘n Pop Shops in the Midwest, jewel thieves have been striking with reckless abandon. The caliber of gem pilferers have ranged from highly successful and calculating posses, like the infamous Pink Panthers, to renegade solo stealers, like a particular femme fatale who has been on quite the tear as of late – and is currently wanted in several US states.
What has lead to this dramatic increase in dangerous, violent and unfortunately lucrative jewel crimes? Are these new age criminals utilizing technology to figure out the security patterns of jewelry stores with deadly precision, and seeing this as a way to make ‘easy money?’ Have international economic woes contributed to people seeking innovative and coincidentally illegal methods for obtaining cash? Is it somehow Trump’s fault?? Not ruling out any of these options, it really is hard to say with any certain degree of accuracy what is the true root cause. One thing is for sure; many of these elite larcenies have been hair-raising, to say the least. Here we take a look at some of the more jaw-dropping-ly fascinating tales of jewel and dough poaching that have occurred over the last few years.
Diamonds of Anarchy
London’s Brent Cross Mall, 2012. A fairly standard autumn morning in homogenized British shopping. Then…half a dozen masked (helmeted) motorcycle men (presumably from Hades) rode INTO a jewelry store on the second floor of the shopping complex and proceeded to wreak havoc. They smashed the jewelry containers with bats and axes and grabbed whatever they could carry in their avaricious mitts. Riding two to a bike, the loot snatchers jumped back on their partners’ backs and blazed out of there to freedom. After all was said and stolen, 3.1 million dollars in Rolex and Cartier watches, along with sundry loose diamonds and gems (and even a few sale items) were gone forever. All the police were able to turn up in the ensuing investigation were the motorcycles themselves, which had been stolen and were left abandoned in a golf course not far from the mall. The motorcycle gang, or “club” as Jax Teller would say, remain at large to this day.
Couldn’t Belieb their Own Eyes
In May of 2013, a truly pop-tastic heist occurred. Technically, no jewelry was stolen, but the amount of plundered cash (half a mil) is enough to raise an eyebrow or two. More importantly, is the venue where this caper went down: FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. Thousands of adoring fans were rocking out to arguably one of the greatest musical talents of our time – heck, of EVER. That’s right; the Bieb. While the concert raged on, and many a tween girl wept with hormonally confused ecstasy, a cadre of supplemental security guards (hired just for this epic event) were chainsawing or exploding or god-only-knows-what-ing a two foot concrete floor which gave way to where all the cash from the night’s revelry was stored. The thieves then high tailed it out of there before the final, haunting refrain of “If I Was Your Boyfriend” was even sung.
Cannes Not Believe this Happened
When one thinks of the city of Cannes, nestled on the coast of the French Riviera, images of film festival opulence and extravagant vacations come to mind. A lone dude in a “baseball cap and scarf” toting a handgun who is somehow able to steal 136 million dollars in gems, watches and baguettes from the extra fancy Carlton International Hotel is probably not what you would picture. However, that is precisely what went down in 2013 at the famed location. The reason all these valuables were just hanging around the hotel was because Lev Avnerovich Leviev, an Israelite with billions of shekels to his name, had them on display there, in a “private salon.” Too bad the paltry guards assigned to watch said watches and jewels were not trained to deal with an actual robbery (also, they had no guns themselves). So, the solitary fellow strolled over with his pistol, politely asked for the goods and said “au revoir.” Ironic twist: this hotel is where Hitchcock’s 1955 hit “To Catch a Thief” was filmed.
…This thief has not been caught.
Putting Seniors to Work
This past May, London’s premier jewelry district, Hatton Garden (a name befitting a location out of “Great Expectations”) felt a little bit of a squeeze. One of the area’s “safest” safety deposit vaults was expertly invaded and drained of 300 million dollars worth of jewels and pounds. Aside from the staggeringly high amount of quid that was snatched, what makes this case so intriguing is the age of the robbers. The youngest man, out of the nine suspects, was 48, and the most senior was 76. They tunneled their way into the vault, carving out a perfectly cylindrical hole just wide enough to fit presumably the thinnest member of the elder gang. Ultimately, all nine of the thieves were apprehended, which confirms the theory that older people may have the wisdom to pull off a heist of this magnitude, but probably aren’t that particularly great at running away from the police.
One Bold Babe
The Eastern Seaboard has very recently fallen prey to one daring and dazzling dame. The unidentified woman has hit three states thus far: South Carolina, Georgia and Florida (appears this larcenous lady has an affinity for beachy locales). In all of the accounts, she has allegedly overpowered all the workers, zip-tied ‘em up and made off with thousands of dollars in jewels. The FBI has stepped in and vows to take immediate action (but if anything can be learned from watching the ‘X-Files,’ it’s that the FBI is not always adept at getting to the truth…even if it really is out there). Surveillance footage of the woman depicts a tough and attractive individual (possibly similar to Gina Gershon’s character in the film “Bound”), but the police sketch of her makes her look like Carmen San Diego.
Each day it seems at least one jewelry store is hit, somewhere on this vast planet of ours. No one can say what exactly motivates these enterprising thieves (aside from the obvious: money), or if they will slow down any time soon. All we can do is hope that no one is injured in any way in these robberies, that the victims are fully insured…and that the stories continue to be this juicy.