When a certain American reality star was robbed of her engagement ring in her Paris hotel room in late 2016, it seemed like only a matter of time before it was recovered. But as months passed, people began to wonder if the over five million dollars in stolen jewellery would end up disappearing without a trace like these other stolen treasures. |
Antwerp Diamond Heist
The largest diamond heist in history took place in Antwerp, Belgium in 2003. A cunning group of thieves set their sights on helping themselves to the gems, engagement rings, and other jewellery housed in a highly-secured, underground vault in a building called The Diamond Center. The team spent years analyzing the security measures for both The Diamond Center and its vault before launching a meticulous weekend attack. With a homemade tool, they broke into most of the 160 deposit boxes and scored so much loot that they had to leave some behind; they simply couldn't carry it all.
Career criminal Leonardo Notarbartolo is believed to have been the mastermind, but he refused to name other participants in the heist. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and eventually released on parole. The treasure has never been recovered.
In the 1970s, the large shipments of cash from West Germany's currency exchanges were flown to the US and stored at J.F.K. Airport in New York. New York crime syndicates took notice. A mob heist in 1978 became a cautionary tale for gangs of burglars everywhere. After meticulously researching the personnel and storage locker security measures at the airport, Jimmy Burke's gang went to work, subduing cargo agents until they found the one with the key to the locker and forced him to unlock it. The gang made off with nearly $6 million in cash and jewellery.
The haul was bigger than expected, and the gang started to turn on each other. Worried about getting caught, Burke ordered the killing of 10 criminal associates who were involved in the heist. He was arrested and questioned amid the growing witness body count, but he was never charged with the heist. The money and jewellery have never resurfaced.
Harry Winston Heist
In 2008, a group of men entered a high-end Paris store. Some were dressed as women, in fishnet stockings and wigs. They pulled out weapons and demanded valuables from the cases. They snatched nearly a hundred million dollars in luxury watches, diamond engagement rings, earrings, and necklaces.
For years, nothing was heard of the group, which was dubbed, "the Pink Panthers." In 2011, a $20 million stash of engagement rings and earrings from the heist was found in a street drain. It wasn't until 2015 that eight participants in the theft were identified, tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison. However, much of the loot has never been recovered.
The vast majority of jewellery thieves eventually end up being held responsible for their actions. It's still a good idea to get insurance, just in case.
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