The Fascinating Story of The Heist Of The Century

Sit down, for we’re telling you an interesting story today – The fascinating story of what is dubbed as the ‘heist of the century’. The Antwerp diamond heist took place in February 2003 in the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, Antwerp, Belgium.

Why Is It Referred To As The Heist of The Century?

Well, no robbery, I assume, is easy but this one was next to impossible. An impenetrable vault with ten layers of security outside it, complete with Doppler radar, seismic sensors and heat detectors is what the criminals managed to break through with no one even getting the hint!

The details of the heist!

The theft was lead by an Italian – Leonardo Notarbartolo and believed to be carried out with a team of 4-5 more people. It is said that one of the Notarbartolo’s partners was his school mate and now partner in crime, known by the name Speedy.

One of the first things Notarbartolo did was rent out an office in the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. He posed as an Italian diamond merchant. The office gave Notarbartolo and his team 24/7 access to the building and also the opportunity to steal security footage in order to keep their identities hidden.

After watching the CCTV footage, the police then realised that the heat motion sensors had been covered with hairspray to stop them from picking up temperature fluctuations in the room. The use of polyester as a shield also helped another one of thieves avoid getting detected by heat sensing infrared. Heavy duty tape was also allegedly used in the process of remaining undetectable.

It was on Saturday night that the gang picked the lock. The robbery came to light only by Monday morning when the guards came in and saw the vault door open. 109 boxes had been raided and the room was, well, quite obviously, an absolute mess!

*The condition of the vault when the guards discovered the robbery. (Image credit: Wired)

A Garbage Bag That Did Leonardo Notarbartolo Away!

Once the crime had been completed, burning the evidence was what was left. Speedy and Notarbartolo pulled off the motorway to do the deed. However, due to some reason that many suspect to be ripping of the bag, the items got strewn all over. This is when the criminal duo heard someone coming and made a run for it.

That someone happened to be the man who owned the land. He called the police to complain about the fact that someone had littered his property (it is alleged that this was a relatively regular occurrence in general). The police paid little attention, that is, until they caught a glimpse of a few envelopes that had Antwerp Diamond Centre written on them.

Circumstantial clues coupled with DNA collected from an eaten sandwich led the police to Notarbartolo and he was arrested. However, he remained tight-lipped about his other partners and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The diamonds remain uncovered.