A joint Israeli-Belgian investigation solved a mystery of $1 million worth of stolen diamonds that made their way from Antwerp to New York via Ramat Gan.
Earlier this year, a Belgian worker at a diamond processing plant in Antwerp allegedly stole the pricey merchandise from work and fled to neighboring Holland. While hiding out in Amsterdam, he sold nine of the 120 diamonds on the black market. He then used the handsome profits for leisurely activities in the city's Red Light district.
The alleged thief then traveled to Paris, where a pickpocket stole the remaining diamonds in his possession. At this stage, the Belgian federal police managed to track down the original thief, but they had no knowledge on the whereabouts of the pickpocket.
In April of this year, a delivery of 45 diamonds was shipped from Ramat Gan to New York. The diamonds were addressed to the Gemological Institute of America, an agency responsible for inspecting the quality of the diamonds. Analysts at the institute realized that the diamonds were part of the stolen property from Antwerp. The GIA then notified authorities in Israel and Belgium that the diamonds were in their possession.
Two Belgian police officers and their Israeli counterparts searched the home of the diamond exchange member who sent the stolen package to New York. The officers uncovered 19 more of the stolen diamonds from Belgium as well as documents that prove the Israeli sold 10 other stolen diamonds to a dealer in Hong Kong, pocketing $115,000 in the transaction.
The diamond exchange dealer then led police to the man from whom he originally bought the diamonds, who then fingered another Israeli who admitted to buying the stolen diamonds in a Paris store. The pickpocket is believed to have sold the diamonds to the shop.
"The only crime allegedly committed in Israel was by the dealer in whose apartment the diamonds were found, but he is prepared to return the diamonds to Antwerp and compensate the Belgians," said police chief superintendent Itzik Gatnio. "From our standpoint, this entire process is complete. We transferred all of the diamonds and the documents to authorities in Belgium, where the investigation is continuing."
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