At BASELWORLD 2011, an otherwise successful exhibition was tarnished by a theft on the eve of its closing.
In an industry where discretion is woven into its very fabric, the following details are available:
On March 30 at approximately 11a.m., four diamonds worth $10 million were stolen from an Israeli diamond trader’s exhibiting showcase in Hall No.3 at the event. The theft was only discovered about 15 minutes after it occurred.
Once detected, the hall was closed with participants forbidden from leaving for half an hour. The thieves have not been identified or caught so far, but an investigation is underway and the authorities are making progress.
The robbery was obviously the work of professionals. Swiss police, after studying CCTV, suspect that a gang comprising five members was responsible for the theft. The gang is thought to have studied the display showcase for several days before implementing their plan, enabling them to strike quickly. Basel prosecutor, Markus Melzl, stated, "Three people diverted the attention of the diamond trader's employees, while two others opened the showcase."
It has been reported in the Swiss press that the stolen stones were very large, with one of them said to be weighing in the region of 30 carats.
Jewelry related thefts using the modus operandi of distracting an employee while making away with the bounty has been used to good effect in the past. It seems to have been successful yet again in this instance. With over 103,000 visitors this year at BASELWORLD plus the almost 2,000 exhibitors, numerous press corps, and other ancillary staff, the scene is perfectly set for thefts of this kind. The best efforts of the organizers and the tight security were to no avail in thwarting this highly sophisticated gang.
There seems to have been some progress though in attempts to catch the culprits. On 5th April, international police agency, Interpol, distributed photographs of the suspected gang members. The images were taken from BASELWORLD’s security cameras.
BASELWORLD has been targeted by thieves in the past and no doubt will be targeted in the future as the vices of a few seek to destroy the pleasure of many and the desire for large monetary gain without commensurate hard work reigns supreme.
It can only be hoped that in this instance, the Swiss traits of vigilance, precision, and thoroughness will enable those responsible for the theft to be brought to justice and the diamonds returned to their rightful owner