Brink's driver was asleep during massive jewelry heist in SoCal, new lawsuit claims

The value of the items stolen is now the subject of two lawsuits filed this month.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022
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While the second driver was getting food inside a rest stop - spending nearly 30 minutes away from the vehicle - the thieves stole 22 bags of jewelry from the vehicle and fled, according to the lawsuit filed by Brinks.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Last month, thieves stole millions of dollars' worth of jewelry from a Brink's tractor-trailer in a late-night heist, and according to a new lawsuit filed by the security company, one of the drivers was asleep inside the vehicle during the robbery.

The Brink's cargo trailer was headed for a jewelry show in Pasadena early on the morning of July 11 when it was robbed after the driver pulled over at a rest stop in Lebec.

While the second driver was getting food inside the rest stop - spending nearly 30 minutes away from the vehicle - the thieves stole 22 bags of jewelry from the vehicle and fled, according to the lawsuit filed by Brinks against the 13 jewelers.

The lawsuit claims the driver returned to the truck at 2:32 a.m. and saw the red plastic seal around the trailer was cut and lying on the ground.

The valuables were all a part of the International Gem and Jewelry Show, a well-known national traveling exhibit.

"Most of the certified diamonds do have serial numbers engraved in the stones, you need a microscope to read it," said Arnold Duke, the president of the International Gem and Jewelry Show. "All the Rolex watches and the Cartier watches all have serial numbers. A lot of this is trackable."

READ MORE | FBI investigating massive jewelry heist in SoCal

The 13 jewelers say their goods were worth close to $100 million. Brinks says it was valued at less than $10 million. If the $100 million figure is accurate, it would be one of the largest jewelry thefts in modern history.

According to the complaint, "the pickup manifests for the missing shipments declare a total value of $8,700,000. Local media reported that the value of the missing shipments exceeds $100,000,000."

The security company's lawsuit alleges that the jewelers under-declared the value of the items that were being transported.

"They underinsure because the extra insurance is very, very expensive, and because everybody trusts Brinks a million percent, and they've never lost anything of ours after all these years, people are just very comfortable," explained Duke.

Brink's is seeking to limit potential payouts to the jewelers, who say their cargo was worth $100 million and that the security company is trying to deny compensation to its customers for a theft "its drivers practically invited to happen."

A spokeswoman for Brink's declined to comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday, citing the pending litigation.

Lawyers for the jewelers in the state lawsuit did not respond to The Associated Press' request for comment, nor did the Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant who is investigating the case.

Duke said stolen items include gold jewelry, thousands of diamonds, about 100 watches from Rolex and Cartier and rare gems.

The traveling show happens every week at different locations around the country. The Brink's truck was heading to the Pasadena Convention Center for the July 15-17 show.

Brink's issued a statement back in July that read in part: "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. 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.