Theft Shows Strength Of Diamond Bourse's SecurityFebruary 07, 19
Watching the short movie online this week of a South American thief quietly, and with utmost "professionalism", spiriting away a briefcase of diamonds in the trading hall of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), it seemed incredible that it could have happened in one of the most secure bourses – perhaps the most secure – in the world.
As someone who queued up innumerable times in the past for entrance to the exchange in order to attend meetings (before I eventually received a permanent entrance badge) I can attest to the high level of security. To receive a temporary badge, your ID no and personal details need to be in the system and it only gives you entrance for a limited period of time. And you have to provide the name of a company representative who is buzzed by the security clerk at the entrance to the building in question to confirm that you should be allowed entry for the meeting. The electronic badge only gives you entrance to the building in which the firm is located and not to the other three towers that make up the exchange.
Of all the bourses I've been to around the world – and I've been to many of them – I've always felt that few could match the IDE's security. How could it be otherwise in a country that is rightly so security obsessed? Indeed, Israeli security firms have provided advice to some other exchanges about how to defend and protect buildings.
Media reports said that a gang of nine Colombians flew in especially for the International Diamond Week (IDWI) at the end of January where the theft took place, while also suggesting that members of the gang were aided by an insider. All of that will obviously be investigated by the police and the IDE.
Reports of Colombian gangs carrying out thefts and robberies of diamonds and jewelry have abounded in the United States for a decade or two, but I believe this is a first for Israel.
It got me wondering if clerks at airports and other border points deciding on whether to allow foreigners entry are made aware of special events going on in the country. Israel is a relatively small country; there aren't that many shows going on at any particular time – particularly a trade fair where many millions of dollars of stock are going to be on display.
As for the incident itself, the owner of the briefcase was nearby, but with hundreds of people milling around and being engaged in talks, he didn’t notice the thief at work. Fortunately, the security camera footage was quickly turned over to the police who launched an immediate search. The group of nine Colombian tourists was arrested at Israel's border crossing with Egypt as they attempted to flee the country. From the Ramat Gan exchange, that is
What the event also clearly showed was how rare such incidents are. And that's because the security at the bourse is incredibly strict and well administered. But it just goes to show that there could always be a loophole.
Based on my knowledge of the professionalism of the Israeli bourse and its management, there is little doubt that lessons will have been learned.
Unfortunately, the incident detracted somewhat from reports of the show, which the bourse said was the largest and most successful ever, with 350 foreign buyers arriving from over 30 countries, one-third of which were new to the IDE. Over 150 Israeli companies exhibited polished diamonds, with dozens more companies offering high-end diamond jewelry in a dedicated section.