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Market Developments

IDEX Online: Police arrest 17 in $31M watch heist

By Albert Robinson

October 21, 2013

Madrid--Spanish police have arrested 17 people suspected of involvement in the biggest jewelry heist in Spain's history, the December 2012 theft of wristwatches valued at more than 23 million euros ($31.4 million) in Madrid.

One of those arrested is a known thief called Ismael A.V., alias "The Troll," who is considered to be the mastermind of the theft. Among the others are 11 Chinese citizens.

The thieves raided two safes at the Diarsa company, fleeing with more than 1,700 expensive Swiss watches. More than 300 of the luxury watches, some valued at close to 270,000 euros ($368,000), have been recovered.

Through Interpol, law enforcement agencies have been able to locate more watches in Shanghai, where the thieves were selling them on the black market.

Ismael A.V., age 35, has been arrested more than 10 times, and following the robbery he left a downscale neighborhood of Madrid and settled into a life of luxury on the island of Ibiza, according to investigators.

His band of accomplices entered Diarsa's premises during working hours and gained access to the heavily armored room where the watches were kept, all without leaving any trace and without the guards detecting them. They remained inside carrying out their theft for four hours.

The thieves even managed to take videotapes from the security cameras and knew the safe's combination. However, police are currently ruling out implicating anyone working for the firm.

This article was first published on IDEX Online on Oct. 21.