#9 Antwerp Diamond Center
16th February 2003- Belgium: $100 million+
Because the robbers knew that 80% of the world’s uncut diamonds go through Antwerp they decided to rob the diamond center.
Belgium has seen many unbelievable heists, but this one was incredible in both dollar value and the method with which it was executed.
Its haul was so large that the robbers literally couldn’t carry all their booty out of the vault, but still managed to empty an impressive 123 of 189 deposit boxes.
The mastermind behind this operation was a 30 year career thief, Leonardo Notarbartolo. The robbery required years of planning, with at least four people involved.
Their plan was simple: rented an office space in the building, three years earlier, where Leonardo posed as an Italian diamond merchant to gain trust and credibility.
When it was finally the time to move in, they inserted fake tapes into the security cameras to cover their movements.
The vault was protected by 10 layers of security, including infrared heat detectors, Doppler radar, a magnetic field, a seismic sensor, and a lock with 100 million possible combinations.
The robbery was called the heist of the century, and even now the police can’t explain exactly how it was done.
Notarbartolo was caught after one of his accomplices failed to burn a garbage bag of evidence.
The $100 million worth of gems has never been found and Notarbartolo is currently serving a 10 year sentence.