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FBI investigating massive jewelry heist in SoCal

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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Jewelry, gems, high-end watches and other valuables worth millions of dollars were stolen from an armored truck in Southern California.

The Brink’s armored vehicle was on its way to a jewelry show in Pasadena in the early morning of July 11 when it was robbed near the mountain community of Frazier Park.

The vehicle had stopped at a rest area and had been broken into, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told ABC News. The driver and crew of the vehicle are working with investigators.

It had been loaded the day before after an exhibit near San Francisco. The FBI office in Lancaster is working with the LASD to investigate.

“It’s such a tragic situation,” said Arnold Duke, president of the International Gem and Jewelry Show.

Multiple exhibitors, some of them located in downtown Los Angeles, had merchandise on the truck and many of them lost their savings. Insurance is expected to cover only a fraction of their losses.

There is some conflicting information about the value of the merchandise. Brink’s says the items have come to an estimated value of less than $10 million. But exhibitors say the actual value is between $100 million and $150 million.

The discrepancy is apparently the result of common industry practice.

“They’re underinsured,” Duke said. “Because the extra insurance is very, very expensive. And because everyone trusts Brink’s a million percent. And they’ve never lost anything from us. After all these years, people just feel really comfortable.”

Duke said stolen items include gold jewelry, thousands of diamonds, about 100 Rolex and Cartier watches, and rare gemstones. Some items, such as the watches and diamonds, have serial numbers engraved and may be traceable.

The traveling show takes place weekly in various locations around the country. The Brink’s truck was on its way to the Pasadena Convention Center for the July 15-17 show.

Brink’s released a statement that read, in part, “According to the information the customers provided to us before shipping their items, the total value of the missing items is less than $10 million. We are working with law enforcement agencies and we will full customers for the value of their assets that were stolen, in accordance with the terms of our contract.”

Law enforcement experts say a robbery of this magnitude is rare.

“To allow a robbery like this to happen with that amount, potentially over $150 million in losses, is just unbelievable,” said law enforcement expert Bruce Thomas.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.

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