What was quite possibly the “Crime of the Century” took place at the Frazier Mountain, California Flying J. A Brinks armored carrier, the larger version of the common armored car you see at the local bank, was robbed of approximately $150 million of watches, gemstones and jewelry. Unfortunately for the “mom-and-pop” stores that owned the valuables, they did not have the cargo insured at face value.
Brinks’ reputation just took a big hit on the nose
It seems that almost every safety protocol in the high-value cargo handbook was not followed in this case. The theft occurred at approximately 2 a.m. on Monday, July 11. (Seems our friends at the FBI put a week-long media embargo on the news as local news outlets did not report until July 18).
A crew, most likely a driver and guard, parked their truck at the Flying J off Exit 205 on Interstate 5 at Frazier Mountain. According to local news reports, the truck was parked “in a remote area” of the truck stop. Sounds weird, but that is protocol in the high-value handbook, although I’d personally want it in a place where I could watch it at all times.
Now we get to where things go sideways. According to reports, it appears that both the driver and the guard left the “$150 million in valuables” without supervision and went inside to eat a hot meal. That is definitely not protocol according to Arnold Duke, president of the International Gem and Jewelry Show (Intergem). Intergem is a traveling show for vendors shopping their wares around the world. Now 16 of those vendors are without the valuables that constituted their livelihoods.
While the guards were away from the truck eating is when the heist occurred. No information has been released on who or what was used. What has been released was when the guards returned from their meal break, they found the lock either picked or broken. Upon further inspection, they discovered that approximately 16 bags of loot were missing. Now we get to the sad part of this story and something that will sound familiar to everyone reading this article – under-insuring your property.
Small merchants were robbed, not big-name brand stores
A question for the readers of this article: How many of you have your car, house, equipment or other valuables insured for the full value? Or are they insured for just the minimum requirement? That is the sad part of this story as most of the vendors involved are local family-owned stores. These were not big national brand-name retailers.
As we all know, insurance is very expensive. Truck insurance rates are always increasing, either because of corporate greed or government mandate. The $150 million in stolen property was only insured for $10 million. The reason given? Fully insuring the items would have been too expensive. Remember I said this was a road show.
The Brinks carrier had left the San Mateo County Event Center and was enroute to the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California. Based on reports, the vendors have to contract with the carrier (Brinks) each time their goods are moved. That’s thousands of dollars every week. As noted earlier in the article, the stolen jewelry and gems were their livelihood. Now, they are at the mercy of the insurance adjusters and that under-insured policy.
Take this as a lesson to always properly insure your property. I know it can be outrageously expensive, but do you have the money in the bank to replace it should it be lost or stolen?