Police suspect diamond gang 'had inside help'

28th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

28 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — Police suspect robbers who hijacked a truck carrying EUR 75 million in jewels from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam last week must have had help from the inside. It was one of the largest diamond heists ever.

28 February 2005

AMSTERDAM —  Police suspect robbers who hijacked a truck carrying EUR 75 million in jewels from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam last week must have had help from the inside. It was one of the largest diamond heists ever.

Police believe it would have been impossible for the culprits to know what time to strike on Friday and what truck they should hijack.

The investigation team was expanded on Monday as military police in charge of airport security called on colleagues across the country to assist in the search for the gang. Some 25 officers were initially assigned to conduct the investigation.

Three to four robbers seized a KLM Cargo transport on Friday in broad daylight at Amsterdam airport's secure freight area. A large number of witnesses saw the robbery unfold.

The culprits — who may have been dressed in KLM uniforms — waited in a car at the freight area for the guarded KLM truck to arrive. The truck was to transport the jewels to a Tulip Air plane bound for Antwerp, the diamond capital of Europe.

But the robbers intercepted the truck and the two guards were forced at gunpoint to exit the vehicle and lie on the ground. The robbers then drove away casually. The robbery took no more than a few minutes.

The truck was later found dumped in an industrial area in Hoofddorp, a town near Schiphol. Witnesses there claim the robbers drove away in another car, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Monday.

Schiphol Airport is responsible for security at the freight area, employing a private firm to maintain freight security, which was intensified after the 11 September terrorist attacks.

A spokesman said workers who wish to gain access to the freight area must show a special entry card, which is scanned electronically. A car's number plate must be registered to gain entry and a guard inspects a truck's load or a car's boot prior to the boom gates being raised. All exiting vehicles are checked again.

KLM and the military police have refused to confirm the value of the stolen jewels, but experts have estimated the theft at EUR 75 million, making the robbery one of the largest diamond heists in history. Jewels in transport are usually insured.

The Antwerp diamond sector has demanded that Schiphol take new measures to insure the security of future transports.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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