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Thieves in Southern California stole millions of dollars worth of gems and jewelry from an armored vehicle last week, officials said.
Brandy Swanson, a director at the International Gem and Jewelry Show in San Mateo, south of San Francisco, said the stolen rarities were estimated to be more than $100 million.
Dana Callahan, a spokeswoman for Brink’s security, confirmed the merchandise was loaded into one of their trucks following the show on July 10 and that it was robbed on its way to Los Angeles.
Swanson said 25 to 30 bags were stolen from the truck and that 18 victims reported sizable losses following the robbery.
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Callahan, however, disputed the estimated figure.
“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,” Brink’s said in a statement. “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.”
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Swanson said the “mom-and-pop operators” typically underinsure their jewelry because they cannot afford the costs and fees associated with insuring it fully.
“That’s where the discrepancy comes in. These are mom-and-pop operators,” Swanson said. “They’re devastated. Some of these people have lost their entire livelihoods.”
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Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, said the robbery took place in the desert city of Lancaster, as the truck was heading from San Mateo to an event at the Pasadena Convention Center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.