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Holy crap: $100 million Brinks heist at CA truck stop


Gil Bang
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When experts recall the most notorious jewelry heist in modern history, they talk about the tunneling into Hatton Garden in London or the Antwerp, Belgium, break-in that took months of planning.

Then there is the case of the heist earlier this month at the Flying J truck stop along Interstate 5 in the Grapevine.

In the early hours of July 11, two armed guards left their Brink’s big rig, giving a gang of thieves a 27-minute window to make the huge snatch, its total value still a mystery. Estimates range from $10 million to $100 million.

The team of burglars bypassed the truck’s locking mechanism and used the storage containers to haul away precious gems, gold and other valuables from a Brink’s tractor-trailer, say multiple law enforcement sources not authorized to discuss the crime.

How much the thieves netted during the 2 a.m. snatch is hotly debated. Brink’s said it was less than $10 million based on the insurance. A federal law enforcement source and some associated with the International Gem and Jewelry Show world said the total appears to be closer to $100 million.

“We are talking multi millions here. It is a huge amount of money,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau Sgt. Michael Mileski, a veteran of investigating armored car and bank capers. Mileski said the $10 million is a base, and it is expected to escalate.

The question is how the thieves got into the truck and whether they knew in advance about the valuables inside. Given the less than half an hour window, he said, “we believe several thieves had to be involved.”

The crime didn’t match the usual definition of a heist because it did not involve a robbery so much as stealth burglary.

The gang of thieves was able to quickly bypass the truck’s trailer locking mechanism, enter its vast back and unload a series of storage containers filled with jewelry, diamonds other precious gems, and a plethora of Rolexes and other designer watches, Mileski said. The investigator said he wouldn’t describe the locking mechanism but acknowledged it would not be exceedingly difficult to crack. Outward signs of the riches inside were not obvious. But Mileski said the guards driving such trucks are openly carrying firearms and that could alert someone watching trucks.

Arnold Duke, president of the International Gem and Jewelry Show whose exhibitors displayed the items in San Mateo and were moving them to Pasadena, said the truck contained many 70- to 100-pound plastic containers filled with jewelry, gems and watches.

“We are looking at more than $100 million in documented losses,” he said. “This was an absolutely huge crime. One of the largest jewelry heists ever. We are talking gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and loads of luxury watches.”

“There were 15 exhibitors each with $5 [million] to $10 million in merchandise,” he added. “These are small businesses with their entire wealth vested in that truck. It has destroyed them financially and it affected their health in some cases.”

 

 

Duke said he was told the thieves did not manage to get all the valuables off the truck. Duke declined to discuss the security measures at the shows but said everyone entering is photographed. Typically, merchandise is transported in a big rig with a bulletproof cab, equipped with satellite tracking and elaborate camera systems, armed guards, with the exact route kept a secret, he added.

FBI agents and sheriff’s major crimes investigators have scoured the Flying J truck stop off the 5 for clues.

They have interviewed potential witnesses and reviewed security videos for images of the vital half-hour window where the security guards left the truck door unguarded.

“Obviously, we aren’t about to say what we have at this stage,” the sergeant said.

Flying J’s corporate parent has a web request page for its travel center’s security videos to help law enforcement and others gain access.

Cargo theft is a massive criminal enterprise across the L.A. region with some of the biggest ports in the nation. Last year alone, CargoNet, a theft record firm, logged more than $57 million in cargo truck theft. California remains the top state for cargo snatches, with a 13% increase over 2020.

More likely, however, is thieves surreptitiously tracked the truck from the gem show’s last location in San Mateo. Vendors crated their riches July 10 and put them on the truck destined for their next show at Pasadena Convention Center. FBI officials say obviously they are examining everyone who knew about the move.

The Flying J Travel Center is open 24 hours a day on Frazier Mountain Park Road and includes a Dunkin’ Donuts Express and a Wendy’s with space for 47 trucks. Truck-stop cargo thefts, according to insurance industry underwriters, are relatively common. But data on U.S. truck-stop cargo thefts between 2012 and 2018 showed only one theft in Lebec.

Brinks declined to comment beyond a statement saying: “Last week, a loss incident involving a Brink’s vehicle occurred near Los Angeles. 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. We are working with law enforcement and we will fully reimburse our customers for the value of their assets that were stolen, in accordance with the terms of our contract.”

The Brink’s global services website lists the trade show locations on a link to trade shows. The show in San Mateo ran from July 8-10, with the Pasadena show scheduled for July 15-17.

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19 minutes ago, High Plains Drifter said:

 

 

Guards had to be in on it.

 

 

yep, i find it hard to believe that Brinks SOP would allow that both guards leave sight of the truck at the same time.  da fuq are they doing in the Flying J for 27 minutes?  new high score for Galaga?  

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At a truck stop near San mateo

i saw a brinks truck stopped for a lunch and go

With a door lock that was just so-so

so I took what’s inside  

 

I found a bunch of jewelry and gems

Worth a few million, maybe ten

figured I could sell some now and then

but the rest I’d have to hide. 
 

/hat tip to delbert

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1 hour ago, gyroprotagonist said:

yep, i find it hard to believe that Brinks SOP would allow that both guards leave sight of the truck at the same time.  da fuq are they doing in the Flying J for 27 minutes?  new high score for Galaga?  

"Norton. Norton.  Come on down I want to show ya something..."  

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Posted (edited)

This is Oceans 11 type of heist. No way it was just some random dudes in a Nissan Altima driving by and seeing a Brinks truck and deciding in the spur of the moment to thieve the truck.

And how do you unload $100M worth of jewelry without everyone knowing about it? The Nissan Altima dudes are just going to walk into a pawn shop and pawn tens of millions worth of diamonds? The thieves most likely already had discrete buyers in mind.

I've seen enough movies to know the real thieves had foreign accents. Probably Russian. Or Greek. 

Edited by crash_davis
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2 hours ago, FirstTimeCaller said:

You dolts. This was obviously done by Netflix. They do the heist, get the money, but more importantly have content for their next true-crime documentary series. They will make 10X off the content versus what they actually stole.

Negative. Netflix plans to use proceeds from the fenced goods to pay for all the terrible programming its greenlit the past few years.

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Negative. Netflix plans to use proceeds from the fenced goods to pay for all the terrible programming its greenlit the past few years.

Are you saying Amy Schumer’s comedy special was not well received?
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17 hours ago, FirstTimeCaller said:

You dolts. This was obviously done by Netflix. They do the heist, get the money, but more importantly have content for their next true-crime documentary series. They will make 10X off the content versus what they actually stole.

Yep. And then my wife will watch the series, furthering her propensity to triple-lock our hotel room when we travel, because “there are thieves out there”.  I’d almost rather them take our $300 in cash than me pull open the door to go get coffee in the morning and then have it stopped by the deadbolt chain. 

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The LAT article mentioned the Brinks truck had only 2 drivers and a lock on the back of the trailer that wasn't difficult to breach. It had no distinctive markings identifying it as a Brinks trailer. The Flying J is off of Interstate 5 and if you're driving north, that area is THE place to take a break after a rather stressful drive, esp for a large truck, over the lengthy and steeply graded Tejon pass. That Flying J has a Wendys and a dunkin, as well as full shower facilities, etc for truck drivers. The truck was a brilliant and highly vulnerable target...they knew that if the truck stopped somewhere along the route, either both guards would go inside, or that the truck would be left with only one person guarding it.  I don't know if either of the drivers was armed even though it was Brinks doing the haul. Wow! Over a hundred mil of valuables, gone in minutes, with nobody tied up or injured.

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2 hours ago, Chopper said:

The LAT article mentioned the Brinks truck had only 2 drivers and a lock on the back of the trailer that wasn't difficult to breach. It had no distinctive markings identifying it as a Brinks trailer. The Flying J is off of Interstate 5 and if you're driving north, that area is THE place to take a break after a rather stressful drive, esp for a large truck, over the lengthy and steeply graded Tejon pass. That Flying J has a Wendys and a dunkin, as well as full shower facilities, etc for truck drivers. The truck was a brilliant and highly vulnerable target...they knew that if the truck stopped somewhere along the route, either both guards would go inside, or that the truck would be left with only one person guarding it.  I don't know if either of the drivers was armed even though it was Brinks doing the haul. Wow! Over a hundred mil of valuables, gone in minutes, with nobody tied up or injured.

IIRC, both guards were openly carrying weapons.

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40 minutes ago, woohorn said:

Hard to believe at least one vendor didn't stick an air tag in one of their bins tho...

Or, maybe a vendor "did".  A vendor that was in on it and is committing insurance fraud.  Put a tracking device in the merch, the bad guys follow easily, etc. 

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Gil Bang said:

Or, maybe a vendor "did".  A vendor that was in on it and is committing insurance fraud.  Put a tracking device in the merch, the bad guys follow easily, etc. 

Yeah definitely an inside job...but the circle of those with inside info could be pretty large. Any of the vendors or their associates. Any of the event center employees at any of the destinations on the tour. Anyone who helped load the truck at one point or another. Heck, anyone who attended one of the shows and became interested to learn how the valuables were transported could have done it. The brinks guys are the most obvious sus but would also be the easiest to catch. It could be any other brinks co-workers too, current or past, if they were aware of the logistics. There's also the remote possibility that some random recognized it as a brinks truck somewhere along its route and decided to follow it and see if it was their lucky day.

Source: have watched a lot of detective shows.

Edited by Chopper
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I don't think it's common for both guards to leave the truck unattended at the same time. The culprit is going to be something they'd both eaten about 30 minutes beforehand that food poisoned them and gave them urgent shits. Not necessarily an inside job.

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On 7/23/2022 at 2:29 AM, Not a cat said:

The thieves were able to "enter its vast back and unload".  Does Vic Mackey have an alibi?  

Said he was getting hitched and his life was changing. Freudian slip.

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On 7/22/2022 at 10:08 AM, gyroprotagonist said:

yep, i find it hard to believe that Brinks SOP would allow that both guards leave sight of the truck at the same time.  da fuq are they doing in the Flying J for 27 minutes?  new high score for Galaga?  

truck+screenie.jpg

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Posted (edited)

There must be a steal expensive jewelry virus that's afflicting America. On another note, I need to sell salvation. Seems to be a profitable business.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/new-york-bishop-wife-robbed-400k-jewelry-heist-live-streamed-service-rcna39780

 

A Brooklyn bishop and his wife were robbed during a livestreamed sermon Sunday after armed assailants stormed the service and made off with around $400,000 worth of jewelry, New York City police said.

Bishop Lamor Whitehead was in the middle of delivering his sermon at the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries church in Canarsie when three gunmen burst in around 11:15 a.m., the NYPD said.

Police said the attackers were believed to have taken around $400,000 worth of jewelry in total before fleeing the service on foot and entering a white Mercedes Benz. They were last seen traveling eastbound on Avenue D, police said.
Edited by crash_davis
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