Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: Dresden museum heist: Vault security is up for grabs

Filed on November 26, 2019 | Last updated on November 26, 2019 at 07.05 pm

For the red-faced museum staff there will be doubt of this being an inside job.

The human race loves a little bit of larceny. Robberies where cash and jewels are central targets have been a cinematic spectacle for eons. From the Great Train Robbery to the Ocean's series to capers and heists from the early days of To catch a thief and The Asphalt Jungle, these stories of getting the better of the system have fascinated moviegoers. So conditioned have we become that there exists in many a grudging admiration for the crooks who use their brains to outwit security. The biggest theft since WWII that even puts Ronnie Briggs (the architect of the Great Train Robbery) into the shade occurred on Monday in Dresden, Germany, with a billion of dollars' worth of precious diamonds being swiped from the Royal Palace museum.

Until this incredibly bold and almost unbelievable breach in hi-tech security measures, the richest haul had been 'credited' to the Antwerp diamond heist when in 2003 over $100 million worth of diamonds, gold, and jewellery were cleaned out. Dresden museum heist is ten times that and while it is a moot issue how these highly catalogued pieces will find a willing fence or be channeled to recipients who can only be private owners and enjoy the self-indulgence of never telling anyone they have possession of a rarity. What is worse is the possible destruction of these exquisite pieces thereby not only dropping their value drastically but killing their history forever.

For the red-faced museum staff there will be doubt of this being an inside job. It is a strain on the imagination to accept that the theft occurred coincidentally because of an electrical failure. The thieves were clearly organised and smart but even they could not have been standing by waiting for a blackout. One of the issues that will rise to the fore is the quality of security guards and the fact that in the hierarchy of bank and vault staff they are the lowest paid and often retired and largely unfit former cops. As a result, the human element is unlikely to deter enterprising crooks who now concentrate on cyber-technology and need the use of hackers and whizz kids on keyboards who can jam, thwart, re-configure alarm systems and confuse the computer brain enough to not react to intrusion. Security in banks and vaults is now a major business and an added dimension in the era of card fraud and data misuse is that every bank commits to keeping this information safe. And we know what happens there.

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