Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) August 20, 2009 -- It appears as if the two well-dressed, armed robbers did not make any effort to wear disguises, during the robbery at the exclusive Graff store, in New Bond Street, London. The thieves set a new record, by stealing $67 million worth of precious gems.
The heist, perpetrated in broad daylight, had been well organized. A twenty-Nine year-old professional make-up artist was unwittingly used to 'remodel' the faces of the two robbers, for a fee of $650. He was told by the men, that they were starring in a music video. "They asked him to make them look older", said a friend of the make-up artist. "He used special latex material to change the way they looked and was really pleased with the result".
Changing their hair colour and skin tone, the thieves spent 4 hours at the make-up studio, in a Mission Impossible scenario. Stick-on prosthetics were attached to their faces. Changing into formal suits, they discarded their T-shirts and shorts. Just one and a half hours after leaving the studio the heist was pulled.
Forty-three pieces of superb jewellery, including a pair of circular diamond earrings, yellow diamond flower necklace and a $6 million watch, were all the thieves grabbed. They then dragged a female staff member with them as a hostage, as they left the jewellery store. She was however pulled to safety by a security guard.
A taxi was hit as the BMW dashed away from the store. A twenty-four year-old, would-be-hero, who had been drinking outside a pub, gave chase. He decided to give up when he was fired on by the retreating thieves.
It is thought the stolen gems were quickly whipped overseas within hours of the heist. Expert Antonia Kimbell, of the Art Loss Register's recovery unit, said: "These items are highly portable and a flight would have been set up. The Jewellery will pass through a number of hands quickly, to dissociate it with the people who carried out the robbery". The stones will most likely be broken up and sold for approximately one tenth of their market value. This would still net the robbers nearly $7 million. The most likely market-place for the gems to be disposed of would be East Asia.
The two robbers could well be part of the legendary Pink Panther gang, which is made up of highly-disciplined former soldiers from Serbia.
During the past 10 years, similar daring robberies have been pulled off, across 19 countries in Europe, Asia and the Persian Gulf. When thieves hit an up-market Paris store in December 2008, cross-dressed robbers netted a million dollars Unwittingly, the same make-up studio also provided disguises for the Securitas mob, which pulled England's largest cash robbery. $175 million was robbed from a Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent, in 2006.
Not only does the recent theft hold the record for being the largest jewel heist in England, it also holds the record of the largest reward ever offered, of $1.6 million.
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