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One of America’s Largest Jewelry Heists Ever May Have Been an Inside Job

A new report has revealed details in the investigation into a gigantic heist that took place in California last year.

On July 11, 2022, thieves broke a lock on a Brink’s tractor-trailer and made off with millions of dollars worth of jewelry and gems. The merchandise was being transported from the International Gem and Jewelry Show in San Mateo to another trade show about 370 miles away at the Pasadena Convention Center.

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The vehicle contained pieces from several different jewelers. Brink’s has since said that the late-night theft took place while one driver was asleep in the vehicle’s sleeping berth, while the other was inside a Lebec, Calif., truck stop getting food, The Los Angeles Times reported. It all took place within a 27-minute window of time.

There has been some debate about how much the stolen merchandise was valued. Some have suggested it was valued at less than $10 million, while others have reported the haul to be worth $100 million. The figure is also an important factor in two lawsuits that have been filed in the wake of the theft. If the latter estimate is correct, the heist would be one of the biggest in American history.

But a new report has shed more light on the theft. Sergeant Michael Mileski confirmed to New York Magazine that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau and the FBI were considering if it might have been some sort of inside job. He added that authorities had served warrants at residents and businesses for records and to search property, though no further information was given about their efforts.

LEBEC, CA - AUGUST 23: The Flying J Travel Center, just west of the 5 freeway in Lebec, was the site of a Brink’s truck jewelry heist last month. Photographed on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022 in Lebec, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
The Flying J Travel Center, just west of the 5 freeway in Lebec, was the site of a Brink’s truck jewelry heist.

The magazine also reported that the stolen bags weren’t the easiest to grab. The thieves took bags that were located in the back, which might indicate that they were handpicked. However, it has also been suggested that they had tags that might have indicated their value.

“Reading the police report that we had, it’s just kind of hard to believe it’s just a coincidence that some people decided to steal the Brink’s truck,” jeweler Jean Malki, whose jewelry was taken in the theft, told the magazine. “And they knew when they were going to leave. They knew where they’re going to stop. They knew how long they’re going to stop.”

Brink’s has filed a lawsuit against jewelers to limit the payouts they may receive, alleging that they should only be responsible for the amount they bought insurance for. But 14 of the 15 victims countersued Brink’s seeking $200 million, according to New York. Three jewelers have since settled with the security company.

“I think Brink’s is trying to hold that money as a tactic to get these people to capitulate,” Gerald L. Kroll, the lawyer representing the victims, told New York. “Most of these people have lost everything. These are mom-and-pop businesses. This is not the lifestyle of the rich and famous.”

In a statement to Robb Report, a Brink’s spokesperson said: “Our business is based on trust. Our customers trust us to cover them for any losses, however unlikely. In turn, we trust our customers to declare the full and correct value of the goods they ask us to transport. According to the information the customers provided to us before they shipped their items, the total value of the missing items is less than $10 million. In this case, we held up our end and fulfilled our contract, promptly settling a claim by one of the affected customers and subsequently settling two more. The others have chosen to litigate, admitting under oath that they undervalued their goods, and even did so regularly.”

The statement continued: “While we are deeply disappointed by this breach of our trust and the plain language of our contracts, the courts have responded favorably to our position, and we remain willing to compensate these customers for the declared value of their goods.”

Inquiries to Kroll from Robb Report were not immediately returned.

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