Thieves Pull Off $50 Million Diamond Heist at Brussels Airport

An audacious robbery that's set to make anybody's list of the world's most daring schemes.

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Yves Logghe / AP

Baggage carts make their way past a Helvetic Airways aircraft from which millions' of dollars worth of diamonds were stolen on the tarmac of Brussels international airport, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

In an audacious robbery Monday night, armed crooks netted a “gigantic” haul of diamonds at Brussels Airport in Belgium. The crooks broke through a fence and, posing as police, gained entry to the cargo hold of a Zurich-bound plane on the tarmac  — making off with an estimated $50 million in rough and polished diamonds. Authorities found a burned-out vehicle near the airport and are on the hunt for eight men, a prosecutors’ spokeswoman said.

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“What we are talking about is obviously a gigantic sum,” said Caroline De Wolf, of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. “This was a very precise, almost military-organized and well-executed robbery,” said Jan Van der Cruysse, a spokesman for Brussels Airport.

The AFP quoted an unnamed spokeswoman at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, who described the robbery as “one of the biggest” ever. And while TIME’s list of the Top 10 Brazen Heists also includes the theft of millions in gold, cash and jewels, a mail heist so masterful it’s been called The Great Train Robbery, and the theft of the Mona Lisa, The Brussels Job is certainly up there. Feel free to reacquaint yourself with the rest of the list here.

LIST: Top 10 Brazen Heists