Art Imitating Movies?
Leonardo Notarbartolo strolls into the prison visiting room trailing a guard as if the guy were his personal assistant. The other convicts in this eastern Belgian prison turn to look. Notarbartolo nods and smiles faintly, the laugh lines crinkling around his blue eyes. Though he’s an inmate and wears the requisite white prisoner jacket, Notarbartolo radiates a sunny Italian charm. A silver Rolex peeks out from under his cuff, and a vertical strip of white soul patch drops down from his lower lip like an exclamation mark.
In February 2003, Notarbartolo was arrested for heading a ring of Italian thieves. They were accused of breaking into a vault two floors beneath the Antwerp Diamond Center and making off with at least $100 million worth of loose diamonds, gold, jewelry, and other spoils. The vault was thought to be impenetrable. It 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.
The loot was never found, but based on circumstantial evidence, Notarbartolo was sentenced to 10 years. He has always denied having anything to do with the crime and has refused to discuss his case with journalists, preferring to remain silent for the past six years.
The rest HERE
Wired has just published a story on the web that it plans on publishing in their next paper edition on the “Antwerp Diamond Heist” of 2003. I write the title of “Art Imitating Movies” because this story reads much like the script for a “heist” film on par with The “Oceans” series of movies or “The Italian Job” *side note, I am listening to both scores as I read and write about this article**
This heist story brings in all the big plot lines that these films usually have. A group of con artists, technicians, and thugs, an impenitrable vault, and an elusive and as yet un-named mastermind with the funds and the connections to make it happen. Hell, they even had a scale model of the vault just like the movies!
The question is though; “Do we believe this story at all, in part or just a little?”
I for one believe the technical details as they can be seen in the crime scene photos as well as the police reports. Such things as how they defeated the light/heat sensor in the vault with a can of hair spray is a classic hack that has been done. Or perhaps the use of the polystyrene shield to prevent the heat sensor on the exterior from going off by “The Genius”
The working out of the code by watching a video taken by secreted cameras is a bit harder to conceive working, but, it could be done. Even the bypass of the internal electrical pulse and the electromagnetic plates was sheer simple genius that obviously the designers never thought low tech enough to discover their weakness.
Classic.. and well done gentlemen.
Now, how the story played out by the tale told by Leonardo Notabartolo has some interesting twists. The real truth of what happened to the “merch” may never be down. Diamonds are all too easy to traffic, cut, sell, disperse, that they are likely already in your friend “Tom’s” diamond engagement ring he got over at the mall for all we know.
The idea that these guys were played and played so handily really is the thing that trips alarms for me. The article contends that the face man (Notarbartolo), a known Mafia connected guy, who had been a thief since 8 years old, could be so easily duped just doesn’t play. Leonardo’s been around the block, he is no fool, but you are supposed to believe that he would go into a gig like this so trusting of his benefactor/facilitator?
I agree though, what a short con this would make! Imagine carrying off a con where you pocket 100 million in diamonds all the while you have used a talented crew of thieves to do your dirty work. Staggering really, yet so so elegant in play. This too also implies a very large conspiracy by the merchants at that facility. All of them would have to be on board for this to work. Keeping all their diamonds in their personal vaults, somehow shifting them to secure locations instead of being in the vault. Of course they have dirty dealings on a daily basis there no? Not inconceivable.
Overall, this story I think has yet to really play out. How it wil I cannot say…What can I say though… I admire their escapade.. Well sans the pound me in the ass prison part.