NT$200m worth of gems stolen from trade show

‘LAX AND SHODDY’::The gems were allegedly stolen from a purse inside an open car as two police officers were distracted by two women asking for directions

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Nov 08, 2017 - Page 1

Police yesterday said they are working to track down eight foreigners in connection with an alleged theft of gems valued at NT$200 million (US$6.63 million) after the Taiwan Jewellery & Gem Fair this weekend.

“We have set up a task force to handle this case and have tentatively identified the suspects. We are pursuing them and are confident we can crack the case,” Taipei Police Chief Chen Chia-chang (陳嘉昌) said.

Investigators are pursuing six men and two women of Middle Eastern origin who they suspect of being members of an international professional theft ring, Chen said, but did not indicate if they have been found.

Jade Wu (伍穗華), general manager of Taipei-based jewelry company Jurassic Inc (侏儸紀寶石), said the gems were stolen from her purse, which she placed on the driver’s seat of her car before departing after the conclusion of the four-day fair on Monday.

“I went to the trunk to load equipment from the exhibition, but when I was done and returned to the front seat, the purse was not there,” Wu said.

Surveillance footage showed several foreigners loitering in the vicinity and quickly leaving the Taipei World Trade Center car park via the escalator.

Police found her purse in some bushes, but the gems were missing.

Wu and Jurassic owner Lee Cheng-lun (李承倫) yesterday called a news conference to report six missing items worth a combined NT$200 million: an extremely rare diamond named the “Kimberley Red,” two other loose diamonds, a sapphire brooch and two jade rings.

There were two police officers in the car park, but they were distracted by two women who are likely of Middle East origin asking for directions, Wu said, alleging that the women were a coordinated part of a professional theft operation.

Lee criticized the security lapse, saying: “This show should be the most secure venue in Taiwan, since it was totally covered by surveillance cameras and police patrols, but the heist occurred right in front of the police.”

“If the police cannot solve this case, it will cause serious damage to the jewelry business in Taiwan. No foreign businesses would dare to come to participate in future shows,” he said.

Similar thefts have occurred before at Taipei jewelry fairs, Lee said, accusing the police of being “lax and shoddy,” and alleging that international theft rings are targeting Taiwan because of police negligence and lax security measures.

Additional reporting by CNA