$50M of diamonds stolen in minutes at Brussels airport

Diamond planeEight masked gunmen forced their way through the security fence at Brussels‘ international airport, drove onto the tarmac and snatched some $50 million worth of diamonds from the hold of a Swiss-bound plane without firing a shot. The gang responsible for one of the biggest diamond heists in recent years used two black vehicles with a flashing blue police lights in their daring raid late Monday.

They tried to pass themselves off as police officers. The robbers, who wore outfits resembling dark police clothing, got away with 120 parcels, mostly containing diamonds but some also holding precious metals. Police said they found a burnt-out minivan believed to be involved in the robbery near the airport later Monday night.

The heist was estimated at some $50 million in diamonds. The robbers forced their way through a perimeter fence, at a place where two work sites obstructed a clear view. There were no details about how the hole was opened but airport authorities said it must have taken more than simply blasting through it with a vehicle.

The robbers drove up to the Swiss passenger plane some 20 minutes before departure time, brandishing their machine guns. Then they methodically broke into the hold, which was accessed from outside, to choose their loot. Passengers were unable to see the drama beneath them. The robbers finished their clinical operation with a high-speed departure through the same hole in the fence, completing the spectacular theft within barely five minutes. Source: Yahoo.com

Visit http://news.yahoo.com/video/robbers-fake-uniforms-pull-off-190916134.html for a video report of the incident.

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SARS Customs launches its Water Wing

SARS Customs Waterwing

SARS plans to operate jet skis (such as pictured above) along its vast river borders. [Picture – SARS]

Last week four Customs officers received their qualifications from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) after having successfully completed their written and practical examinations. The officers who hail from the Northern Cape region will commence active patrol and enforcement operations along the northern border between South Africa and Namibia.

The SARS Water Wing skippers received their SAMSA category R certificates after completing a four-day training course at the Van Rhyn Dam in Benoni.

The officers will from next week begin patrolling the Orange River, the border between South Africa and Namibia, where there are suspected illegal trans-border transactions taking place, especially in abalone, diamonds, narcotics and rhino horn.

“These officials are now qualified skippers with category R licences which will enable them to patrol inland waters such as rivers, dams and harbours. The success of this pilot programme now enables us to actively assist in enforcing the Customs and Excise Act without being totally dependent on other departments,” said Hugo Taljaard, Senior Manager: Detector Dog Unit (Oversight).

He said that although the two jet skis will mostly be used in the Nakop area, they will also be utilised as far as Cape Town harbour in the small craft side of the harbour. There are plans to expand the unit. Customs’ first water wing boat is currently being constructed and more details about its deployment will be communicated in due course.  The jet skippers all agreed that it was quite exciting to be part of this pilot programme. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that one day I would be doing something like this,” remarked one candidate.  “Having jet skis will increase our visibility and this will serve as a deterrent to illegal trans-border traders,” added another.

Over the last 6 years SARS has steadily been increasing its visible policing and enforcement capability across the country’s vast land and sea borders. The hugely successful Detector Dog programme has attracted much national and regional attention. SARS also has plans to increase its existing non-intrusive inspection (NII) capability. Currently Durban, South Africa’s sole CSI port, is the only port with a dedicated X-ray scanning facility. Source: SARS Communications Division and self.