Thieves carried out a daring heist by burrowing tunnels up through the floor of a bank vault close to Antwerp’s diamond quarter, after risking their lives by crawling through sewage pipes.
Between 20 to 30 out of hundreds of safes in the vault were reported as being cracked in Sunday’s burglary in Belgium’s second city.
The BNP Paribas Fortis branch caters mostly to a clientele of Jewish and Indian diamond traders, who are giving testimony as to what was in their safes. There has been no estimate of what, if anything, has been stolen.
The thieves dug a 400 metre long tunnel from a basement of a house close to the branch, before crawling through the sewer system to the bank and digging another tunnel, of about five to ten metres, into the vault.
The bank’s security company called police after an alarms was triggered at 1.44 pm. When employees opened the vault, they were confronted with the hole in the floor but there was no sign of the gang responsible.
The raid, in Belgium’s second city was immediately compared to the intricate plots hatched by hoodlums in Hollywood crime caper Ocean’s 11.
“I do not know how these burglars got out alive,” engineer Els Liekens, who works for a water purification company, told local radio.