Israeli authorities have arrested nine Colombian tourists suspected of stealing hundreds of thousands of shekels in diamonds from a local trade show earlier this week.
The suitcase of diamonds was stolen Monday from the exhibition floor of the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange. Security camera footage shows a man in a suit casually picking up an unattended briefcase from the middle of the busy showroom floor, and walking out. The vendor, who is standing behind a table some two meters away, did not realize his diamonds were missing until after the man had left.
The footage was immediately turned over to police, who launched a search for the thieves. According to reports, a group of nine Colombian tourists were arrested Wednesday at a border crossing as they attempted to leave Israel with the loot.
All nine were remanded in custody until Sunday.
Eitai Rozin, an attorney representing one of the suspects, told Channel 12 news that his client was innocent, and was in Israel on vacation.
“We believe this is an illegal arrest,” he told the news station.
Officials at the Exchange suspect the thieves had help from one of the diamond brokers or a building employee.
“Nobody knows who the person in the security camera footage is, or where he came from,” one worker told the Ynet news site Wednesday. “This is hugely embarrassing for the Exchange.”
“Apparently he received information in advance about where the briefcase would be and what was in it,” he added.