Gems and jewellery worth up to $100m stolen in heist on armoured van

Precious gems and jewellery worth up to $100m (£84m) have been stolen in a heist on an armoured van in California.The FBI is assisting with the investigation. Pic: AP

The vehicle had been transporting the precious cargo between jewellery shows when it was robbed, authorities say.

Brandy Swanson, director of security company Brink’s, which owned the van, said between 25 and 30 bags were taken, containing an unknown number of individual pieces.

Estimates in the value of the loot vary wildly, with 18 victims reporting more than $100m (£84.3m) in losses, while a Brink spokesperson said the items valued less than $10m (£8.4m).

In a statement, Brink’s said: “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 dollars.

“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.”

Ms Swanson said vendors who travel between jewellery shows typically under-insure their merchandise because they cannot afford to insure it fully.

“That’s where the discrepancy comes in. These are mom-and-pop operators,” she said.

“They’re devastated. Some of these people have lost their entire livelihoods.”

The International Gem and Jewellery show hosts about 45 shows nationwide per year, Ms Swanson added.

FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller said the robbery was in the desert city of Lancaster in northern Los Angeles County.

She added that the bureau agency was working with local authorities, but could not immediately provide more information.

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