Jewels and gems worth millions of dollars belonging to exhibitors at a California retail show were stolen from an armored truck traveling north of Los Angeles. A Brink’s Co truck headed towards a storage facility in Frazier Park when the robbery took place, according to Brandy Swanson, director of the International Gem & Jewelry Show. This show hosts retail exhibits across the country.
Initially, the investigation reported that the heist had taken place in Lancaster in the Mojave Desert, a city located in northern Los Angeles County, but FBI officials later confirmed the heist actually took place in Frazier Park in Kern County, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the west.
An anonymous victimized vendor told Los Angeles-based television station KCAL9, a CBS affiliate, “It’s all fine jewelry … and they’re just gone. Sunday you had merchandise, today you don’t have anything.” Most of the stolen goods were one-of-a-kind pieces, such as a sparkling bracelet with 100 carats of multicolored sapphires set in 18-carat yellow gold.
A total of 25 to 30 lockers containing jewelry and gems belonging to 18 exhibitors at a show in San Mateo, south of San Francisco, were robbed, Swanson said. Another show in Pasadena was scheduled, so the merchandise was going into storage. There was no further information provided about the robbery.
According to Brink’s, the missing items are worth less than $10 million, while Swanson values them closer to $100 million. It was not possible to reach the security company for comment immediately. Swanson explained the discrepancy by saying that smaller exhibitors tend to undervalue their pieces for insurance purposes. According to Swanson, her group is in contact with the FBI and local law enforcement.
The exact method of robbing the truck was unclear. She did not know if lockers had tracking devices or if security cameras were on the truck or nearby. “These victims are mom and pop operators, but the value that was in those lockers is worth more than people understand,” Swanson said. “That’s their life. Their whole life’s savings is now gone.”