Justin Mulroy Mulroy itibaren Vaddakkachchi, Sri Lanka
The largest diamond theft so far occured in Antwerp, Belgium in February 2003. Antwerp is the center of the international diamond trade, in the sense that mined diamonds, their price controlled by the de Beers monopoly, end up in Antwerp to be traded amongst the firms in the industry and also in the sense that much of the polishing, cutting, and quality grading of the diamonds occurs there. The target of the theft was the vault of the Diamond Center. The Diamond Center is a large office complex within the Special Diamond Area, a part of Antwerp with unusually high security features. The Diamond Center is on the edge of the district, which allowed the thieves easier entrance. The building's owner had not keep all of the security features up to date, and the staff had also become complacent, two other factors that made possible what was still a very difficult theft. The thieves succeeded in getting into the vault undetected, opening many of the locked safe deposit boxes with a specially crafted tool, collected several hundred million dollars worth of property (mainly diamonds, but also other gem stones, jewelry, and some cash), getting out of the building undetected and leaving Belgium. Several, but probably not all of them, of them were then undone by a combination of incredibly bad luck and a vigorous police investigation. The thieves that were caught were Italian, and probably all of those involved were Italian. Those caught were Leonard Notarbartolo, Ferdinando Finotto, Elio D'Ornio, and Pietro Tavano. Most of them, with the exception of D'Ornio lived near Turin in northern Italy. Di\'Ornio, their specialist in turning off alarms, is from the area of Rome. Nortarbartolo was the inside man; one of the weaknesses of the Diamond Center was a willingness to rent to anyone who could pay the rent and seemed plausible. Nortarbartolo, or perhaps more exactly his wife as most property is in her name, owned three jewelry stores in Turin, as well as a jewelry factory nearby. He is an able designer of jewelry. A background check would have revealed at least one conviction for automobile theft in the 1970s; the police in Turin had suspected him of involvement in some jewelry store robberies in Turin in the 1980s, and wondered how he suddenly got the money to go into the jewelry business about 1980. Notarbartolo spent about 3 years before the robbery making trips to the Diamond Center to make notes on its security systemms (numerous cameras, a motion detector, light sensor, and seismic detectors in the vault; the vault door had a magnetic alarm on it and was locked with both a key and a combination) and doing a good deal of video recording with a concealed camera. The thieves bad luck was where they dumped their trash. Whoever dumped the trash picked the one spot of woodlands in Belgium which has a self-appointed care taker sufficiently obsessive not merely to pick up the trash but go through it to see if there is anything in it to identify the dumpers. This person, August Van Camp, found some reciepts and a torn up work order and business card in the trash, as well as some certifying documents about diamonds. Either he or his wife made the connection to the diamond heist which had been completed the day before, and he called the police. They were able to put together the business card with D'Orino's name on it, as well as some toll reciepts that indicated the thieves came from Italy. Additional receipts for food and tools gave them some idea of where in Antwerp the theives had stayed. Further bad luck occured when, after the trash was found, Nortarbartolo came back to Antwerp in order to allay any suspicions by checking into the Diamond Center one last time. As the work order was for installing a camera for his rented office, and as the police had already searched the office and discovered no business appeared to have been done there, he was caught when he showed up at the Diamond Center. I was astonished at how lenient the sentences were. The longest was for 10 years for Nortarbartolo and he only served six. The other 3 thieves were eventually caughted, tried, and sentenced in Italy for less terms.