The four foreigners who made away with diamonds worth Rs 6.6 crore from the India International Jewellery Show at Goregaon’s NSE Grounds and were detained in Dubai after an Interpol alert on Tuesday are professionals and could be part of an international diamond cartel specialising in heists when there is a show or expo, the police said.
“There is hardly a doubt that they are professionals. We have to see whether they belong to any larger gang operating globally,” said Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police, crime. He said their suspicion has been raised as the heist included members of different nationalities – three Mexicans and a Venezuelan.
Roy said the gang had precise details of the show and had planned the heist in advance. “It seems they had recced the place earlier. Knowing that stall owners would be in a rush to pack up on the final day, they struck at the eleventh hour,” he said.
On Monday, the foursome visited the show posing as members of the gem and jewellery industry. Crime branch sources said the accused had got references from a Jaipur-based diamond firm, which made their entry into the venue easy. “They were well-dressed and raised no suspicion,” Roy said, adding that the police are trying to verify whether they had produced genuine or fake reference papers. The police are also trying to ascertain if the foreigners got local assistance.
Kobi Itzchaki, managing director of the Israel-based diamond firm Dalumi Group, whose diamonds were stolen, told the police the theft took place around 3.30 pm while his employee Guy Vyas was sitting at the stall counter and while he was supervising.
“There was a small storeroom allotted to us where there was a safe and some boxes with diamonds were kept in it. Vyas was sitting with his back towards the entrance of this storeroom,” Itzchaki said in his statement. “Of the four, one woman and a man came and stood near the passageway leading towards our stall. A few moments later, the man asked me to come towards him. When I reached the duo, they started talking to me in Spanish and I could not understand what they wanted.”
As the duo kept Itzchaki distracted, a third member of the gang sneaked into the storeroom and made away with a box containing 887.244 carats of diamonds, which is worth Rs 6.6 crore in the Indian market.
As the accused closed the storeroom door, Vyas heard a noise and turned, but did not spot anyone. Vyas told his boss that something seemed amiss, but it was only later when they were packing up that they realised a box was missing.
Though the 1,550 individual stalls stall did not have CCTV, fortunately for the firm, at least 800 CCTVs were installed in the entire area and one of them captured images of the four accused and showed the woman putting the diamond box in her handbag.
“With the help of the CCTV images, we circulated their photographs, which led to their arrest,” said Ramrao Pawar, additional commissioner of police (north region).
“This is the first time in 27 years that such an incident has taken place,” said Vasant Mehta, president of Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.