Millions of dollars worth of gems and jewelry was stolen from an armored truck parked at a Flying J outside of Los Angeles earlier this week.
The heist occurred between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. at the Flying J near Lebec, California, just 80 miles north of Los Angeles.
The Brinks truck was hauling high-value gems and jewelry from a jewelry show in San Mateo to another jewelry show in Pasadena when the drivers stopped at the Flying J and left the truck unattended. When they returned to the truck, they noticed that the lock had been tampered with, and that the cargo was gone. It is unclear whether the thieves followed the truck to the rest stop or simply seized the opportunity.
“I’ve been doing this professionally for 45 years and never have we had anything remotely close to this,” said Arnold Duke, head of the International Gem & Jewelry Show.
Sixteen merchants had 20 footlockers weighing about 100 pounds each inside of the truck. Each locker contained some array of gemstones, Rolex watches, loose diamonds, and some completed, one-of-a-kind and custom jewelry pieces.
“The sheer quantity of gems and jewelry wouldn’t fit in one car,” Duke said. “It’s a staggering amount of jewelry and for it to be left alone is unconscionable.”
“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,” Brinks told CNN in a statement.
Some of the business owners affected by the theft say they know some of the Brinks drivers personally, and so they did not insure their products for their full value out of trust for their procedures. Now, those merchants are “emotional” and “speechless” and want “Brink’s to answer” for what has happened.
“Many merchants know a lot of the drivers on a first name basis,” said Duke.
Duke has shared surveillance footage of previous jewelry shows with the authorities in hopes of finding a lead on suspicious behavior. No further information has been released.