Armored truck heists might seem like something that has been relegated to fiction and the recent past. However, as recently as 2019, there was still an armored truck heist attempt once every two weeks in the United States. And two weeks ago, a team of thieves stole at least $10 million in jewelry from the back of a Brink’s tractor trailer parked at a highway rest stop in Southern California.
Brink’s, the established private security and protection company, was transporting the extraordinarily valuable cargo from a jewelry show in San Mateo to Pasadena. This necessitated the 370 mile drive from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles County. At 2 a.m. on July 11th, the company’s tractor trailer stopped at a Flying J truck stop off Interstate 5 near Lebec, California, 70 miles north of Pasadena. The driver and additional guard went inside the Flying J, leaving their truck unattended for 27 minutes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, this is when the thieves struck. They broke past the cargo compartment’s lock and took 20 footlockers full of jewelry. Each footlocker is estimated to weigh 100 pounds, and contain a variety of items from Rolex watches and custom finished pieces to gemstones and loose diamonds. Many, including law enforcement, believed that the thieves followed from the Bay Area and waited for an opportune moment to strike.
Brink’s released 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.”
Though, there is some uncertainty surrounding the total value of what was stolen. Arnold Duke, President of the International Gem and Jewelry Show in San Mateo, told the LA Times, “We are looking at more than $100 million in documented losses. This was an absolutely huge crime. One of the largest jewelry heists ever.” Duke has also stated to other outlets that many vendors don’t insure their assets at full value to the expense of insurance and their trust in Brink’s.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are still investigating the heist.