Picture this: You’re refueling your truck at a Flying J truck stop, north of the Grapevine near L.A. A discreet semi truck—not clearly marked as a Brink’s truck with millions of dollars in precious goods inside, unlike the marked Brink’s van you see above—parks off to one side. Reportedly, its guards leave the truck to have a bite. You don’t notice much … until the police descend. Suddenly the truck stop is the scene of a most unexpected crime: a massive heist of jewelry and watches, worth as much as $100,000,000.
That’s a brief sketch of a crime as laid out by the Los Angeles Times, and it boggles the mind. The thieves apparently had less than 30 minutes to pull it off. More importantly, they had to know what the unmarked truck was carrying, and where it was headed. And as CBSLA reports, the guards would have to ignore their typical protocols to leave the vehicle unattended. And perhaps they’d know the lock on the trailer was, for some reason, not terribly hard to defeat, as Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau Sgt. Michael Mileski told the Times.
You might be wondering why a semi trailer secured by a weak lock and unattended by its armed guards would be stuffed with valuables worth between $10 million (Brink’s estimate) and $100 million (as a representative of the jewelery’s owners estimates). The answer, as the Times reports, is that the truck was stuffed full of boxes weighing nearly 100 pounds, full of the goods from the traveling International Gem and Jewelry show, which was heading from San Mateo to Pasadena. Several exhibitors, each with goods valued at several million dollars, had placed their merchandise in that truck to get it to the next show.
Whether this was meticulous planning or sheer, dumb luck by the criminals is anyone’s guess. The gems, jewelry, and watches haven’t surfaced yet, and if the police have any clues they aren’t telling the various news agencies who have been covering this story with a mixture of fascination and horror. It seems to us that the only plot point that separates this heist from the stuff of Fast and Furious fantasy is that the crooks didn’t hit the truck while it was moving.
On a serious note, while the goods were insured, the president of the International Gem and Jewelry Show said (per KKTV) that underinsuring is common in the industry. Given that Brink’s places the value of the goods at just a tenth of what the trade show estimates its participants lost, they could be in for significant financial losses. Unless, of course, the treasure—there’s no other word for it—is recovered and reunited with its owners.