10 Daring Jewel Thieves Who Totally Got Away With Their Crimes
Jewel thieves have always been considered to be a cut above ordinary criminals. Perhaps it’s because they tend to rely on brains more than brawn. Defeating an impossible security system and getting into, and out of, a locked vault holds many of us in awe.
And, of course, the jewel thief has long been a romantic figure in fiction. From A.J. Raffles, Edwardian gentleman and amateur safecracker, in the novels by E.W. Hornung to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant as the devilishly handsome cat burglar, jewel thieves have always captured our imagination.
Here are ten jewel thieves who totally got away with their crimes.
10: The Thief Who Brought Chocolate
Antwerp in Belgium has been the diamond capital of the world since the 15th century. Most of the rough diamonds and around half of the cut diamonds in the world are traded through Antwerp. The district is protected by armed police and comprehensive CCTV, and it contains bank vaults with some of the most sophisticated security devices known to man.
But no security can defeat the irresistible charm of the thief who stole a fortune in diamonds with chocolate. Carlos Hector Flomenbaum (not his real name) opened an account at Amro Bank, and for a year, he behaved like a perfect gentleman. He brought the bank staff chocolates whenever he visited to make regular deposits into his safety deposit box. So regular was Carlos that he was given a key to the vault so that he could access it 24 hours a day.
Which he did. Over a weekend in March 2007, Flomenbaum, who spoke English with an American accent, opened five safe deposit boxes. He was estimated to have stolen around €21 million worth of diamonds. Though embarrassed staff were able to describe the man to composite artists, he has never been caught.
9: The Blue Revolutionist
Also known the Hope Diamond and on permanent display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, the French Blue diamond was stolen during the French Revolution. The diamond was said to have been 112 carats and a lustrous, deep blue.
The history of the diamond is the history of jewel theft. Said to have originally been the eye in a statue of a Hindu god, the stone was supposedly stolen from a secret temple. Or, you know, it might have been mined in the 17th century in India by someone with a flair for marketing.
The diamond was passed down through the French royal family and was finally owned by Marie Antoinette. On September 11, 1792, a mob of revolutionaries and thieves stole the crown jewels, including the French Blue.
The French Blue was never seen again. However, in 1812 a similar, though smaller, diamond was sold to a British banker named Henry Philip Hope. The diamond was listed in his collection with no provenance, unusual for such a valuable diamond.
Scientists who have examined the Hope Diamond are convinced that it was cut from the French Blue. But the identity of the Blue Revolutionist, or indeed any of the thieves of the diamond throughout its history, have never been discovered.