Diamond Store Robbery Carried Out By Thieves With Sledgehammer

Image of robber from surveillance video

The “King of Bling” has been involved in a robbery. In early March, two masked men stormed in to the Diamond Depot, a Philadelphia area jewelry store, and smashed their way in to a jewelry case. The self-titled store owner, whose real name is Ron Alia, has sold gems to celebrities like Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx. But it was two unnamed thieves who have made the biggest impression on him. Alia watched helplessly as the men ran in to his store, one brandishing a sledgehammer.

The Diamond Depot, a store located in the Franklin Mills mall, is equipped with surveillance cameras that captured the heist. One robber smashed the glass with the sledgehammer while the other, holding a red, checkered bag, snatched the goods. Among the stolen items, valued at over $90,000, were Brietling watches with 25-carat diamond bezels, gold chains and gem-encrusted dog tags.

The robbery took place at 11a.m. on a Sunday morning. As Alia showed a ring to a customer, the brash robbers made their dash for his jewels.

“It was crazy,” Alia said. “I turned around and all I saw were the two heads, with ski masks on, and they’re banging in to the case with a sledgehammer.”

Alia and one of his employees both hit panic buttons, sounding an alarm. This was not enough to completely deter the robbers, though they fled the scene three minutes after.

Alia has plans to step up security of his stores after a similar robber took place at another branch of the Diamond Depot previously.

New Book On Famous Diamond Robbery Answers Questions

Front cover of book

Front cover of book.

A new book is shedding light on the biggest diamond robbery in history. “Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History,” speculates that hairspray was the key component that was used in the theft.In 2003, robbers broke in to the Antwerp Diamond Centre and stole upwards of $100 million in goods. Leonardo Notarbartolo, arrested in Italy last July, is believed to have been the mastermind behind the incredible theft.

Authors Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell pieced together research, interviews with Notarbartolo himself and official documents to recreate the road map for the heist. Campbell is the author of Blood Diamonds and Selby is a lawyer and diamond expert. In creating this book, they pooled their respective talents to discover that, during the robbery, a gang of thieves obscured a camera lens using hairspray and employed other tactics to break in to the Grunberger building and eventually in to the vault itself. Reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, Notarbartolo tells of a replica rehearsal vault built for practice runs.

The book answers longstanding questions regarding how the robbers circumvented security cameras and 9 other layers of security. Long shrouded in mystery, the Antwerp diamond heist has now been laid out in flawless detail, shining light on just how millions of dollars in diamonds were secreted away that fateful February night.