An independent diamond dealer told Pittsburgh police he believes he was targeted by thieves who robbed him of diamonds at knifepoint in the parking garage of Gateway Towers, Downtown, as he was returning from a trip.
In what appeared to be a well-planned, quickly executed heist worthy of a Hollywood movie, three robbers took only a backpack containing an undisclosed amount of certified diamonds, punctured a tire on the man's car and jumped into a dark-colored getaway van that a fourth confederate had turned around on the garage ramp for a quick getaway toward Ninth Street, police said Friday.
The man said one of the robbers, who all wore black hooded sweatshirts, had threatened him with a knife before flattening his vehicle's tire.
The value of the stolen gems was not released. Yuriy Bekman, who owns jewelry stores Downtown, in Robinson Mall and in Beaver Valley Mall, said it would not be unusual for an independent diamond dealer to be carrying $250,000 to $1 million or more in gems in a bag. Dealers, who travel to Israel or India, among other locales, to obtain the diamonds, subsequently take them to jewelry stores to try to sell them, Mr. Bekman said.
The robbery began about 9:30 p.m. Thursday as the man was unloading luggage from his vehicle upon returning from a trip. It was then that the van appeared on the ramp and three men jumped out and approached him as the van driver turned the vehicle around.
The robbers pulled the backpack containing the diamonds from the man's shoulder and were uninterested in his other belongings, he told police.
The man told police the diamonds are insured.
His hand was cut in the attack, but he was not severely injured, police said.
Pittsburgh detectives are examining a surveillance video that recorded the heist.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Pittsburgh police robbery squad at 412-323-7151. Callers may remain anonymous.
Michael A. Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-263-1968. First Published June 14, 2013 11:45 AM