A look at spectacular jewel thefts over recent years
Aug. 01, 2018
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The daring theft of crown jewels dating back centuries from a small Swedish town's cathedral joins a long line of brazen jewelry heists over the years. Other thieves have outwitted armed guards and alarm systems to break into opulent jewelry stores, underground vaults and exhibitions — and even cut through an airport fence to seize their loot.
Some spectacular jewel thefts in Europe in recent years:
THE ITALIAN JOB
In January, thieves stole precious Indian jewels from the famed Al Thani Collection that were on show at the Doge's Palace in Venice, including a pendant featuring a 10-carat diamond. Surveillance footage showed one of the thieves calmly opening a showcase window, pocketing the gems and sauntering off. Police say the alarm was triggered a minute later, giving the thieves time to escape.
FASHION WEEK FRIGHT
In October 2016, robbers allegedly forced their way into the apartment where Kim Kardashian West was staying during Paris Fashion Week, tied her up and stole more than $10 million worth of jewelry.
Ten people were charged in the case. The alleged mastermind wrote the reality TV star an apology letter from his prison cell.
OFFSCREEN DRAMA AT CANNES
Cannes is known not only for its film festival glamour but also for dramatic heists.
In 2013 thieves stole Chopard jewelry from a hotel room safe during the festival, a crime that drew parallels to Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring," which was screening that year.
Two months later, a lone gunman pulled off one of the biggest jewelry heists of all time, stealing $136 million worth of diamond jewelry from Cannes' Carlton Hotel - a location for Alfred Hitchcock's classic "To Catch a Thief."
In 2015, raiders — one wearing an old-man mask — walked into the Cartier boutique on Cannes' Croisette seaside promenade in the middle of the morning, and walked out with millions of dollars' worth of jewelry and watches.
European airports have been the crime scene of some jewel thefts.
In a carefully planned 2013 heist, thieves cut through a fence at the Brussels airport, drove to a Switzerland-bound plane and snatched an estimated $50 million in diamonds.
In 2005, thieves threatened guards and hijacked an armored car from Dutch carrier KLM's cargo ramp at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, a major European transport hub, making off with millions in diamonds and jewelry. Subsequent media reports put the value of the loot at up to $100 million. "It was a secured area of the airport, so it's a big question how those people could get there," an airline spokesman said at the time.
POSH TRICKSTERS AND CROSS-DRESSING CROOKS
In 2009, two elegantly dressed men robbed the Graff Diamond Store in London's high-end Mayfair district and carried away necklaces, watches, rings and bracelets worth more than 40 million pounds ($62 million at today's exchange rate), according to Scotland Yard.
While Christmas shoppers stroll outside the posh Harry Winston jewelry shop near Paris' famed Champs-Elysees in 2008, armed thieves — some dressed as women and wearing wigs — entered the store and stole gems and jeweled watches worth up to $85 million, according to French police.
A gang of mostly elderly men broke into London's diamond district Hatton Garden in 2015, drilling through a concrete safe-deposit vault to steal jewelry, gold and cash worth more than 14 million pounds ($18 million.)
In 2003, robbers taped over security cameras, disabled the alarm system and broke into the high-security underground vaults of the Diamond Center in Antwerp, the world capital of diamond-cutting, getting away with an estimated $100 million in goods.
Police said the thieves stood ankle-deep in a pile of diamonds, gold, jewelry, stocks, bonds, cash and lockboxes, and the bounty was so abundant they had to leave a lot behind.