California thieves pulled off a heist straight out of “Ocean’s 11’’ — swiping up to $150 million in jewels from a Brink’s armored truck as it drove from one convention show to another, authorities and vendors say.
Last week’s stunningly brazen theft netted a haul featuring rare, vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces stuffed into 25 to 30 bags in the back of the high-security vehicle, according to officials and reports.
“My life — that’s how I live, that’s how I feed my kids,’’ said a distraught vendor, who lost priceless inventory in the theft, to the local CBS-TV affiliate KPIX.
“You’re looking at 19-karat yellow gold with over 100 carats of multicolored sapphire,” the jeweler said of some of his items. “Sunday, you had merchandise. Today, you don’t have anything.”
The FBI is now investigating the crime, which occurred early Monday, July 11 — and could have been part of a plot in the famed “Ocean’s” heist flick franchise.
The precious cargo had been loaded onto a Brink’s truck the night before, after an International Gem and Jewelry Show in San Mateo south of San Francisco, and was being driven more than five and a half hours away to another showcase at the Pasadena Convention Center northeast of Los Angeles.
The truck had apparently nearly made it to its destination when it was robbed in the desert city of Lancaster just north of Palmdale, an FBI spokeswoman said.
Further details about how the robbery occurred were not released. It wasn’t clear if there was surveillance video of the heist, either.
Brink’s disputed the massive estimate on the stolen jewels, putting the total loss at “less than $10 million,’’ citing what the vendors reported to them before the doomed shipment took off.
“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,” the famous security firm said in a statement.
“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.”
But the director of the San Mateo show, Brandy Swanson, said the 18 jewelers robbed of their gems had lost more than $100 million in the theft, while vendors claimed the figure was as high as $150 million, CBS said.
Jewelry owners tend to underestimate their pricey inventory when it comes to insurance because the cost of insuring it would be too high, Swanson said.
“That’s where the discrepancy comes in. These are mom-and-pop operators,” she said. “They’re devastated. Some of these people have lost their entire livelihoods.”
With Post wires