The diamond worth $20 million (Dh73 million) Image Credit: Dubai Police

Dubai: Dubai Police investigators analysed thousands of hours of CCTV footage and questioned over 100 people to crack the daring theft of a $20 million (Dh73.4 million) diamond from the vault of a Dubai-based company, officials said yesterday (Wednesday).

The incident occurred on May 25 at a company located in a free zone.

In a major operation, Dubai Police recovered the diamond from Sri Lanka after it was smuggled out of the UAE in a shoe box by sea, an official said.

The suspect, a guard working with the money transfer company, was arrested in the UAE. After stealing the diamond, he gave it to a relative who smuggled the precious stone out of the UAE by hiding it in a sports shoe box, the police said.

The Asian suspect, who was arrested in a neighbouring emirate, had managed to break through three security gates to the vault to steal the diamond. He worked for the company.

Close supervision

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-In-Chief of Dubai Police, said the operation to recover the blue stone, named ‘Brilliant’, was closely followed up by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and  Lt-General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

“With the support from His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice -President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and direct orders from our leaders, we could crack  the case. Smart criminal investigation techniques  helped us to solve the crime in  record time,” Major General Al Merri said.

Colonel Mohammad Aqeel Ahli, deputy director of Criminal Investigation at Dubai Police, said they were alerted about a robbery of a rare stone (9.33 carat) after an unknown person broke through three security gates to get to the company’s vault on May 25. “The security system of the vault requires a group of employees to open the last gate simultaneously. Despite the precautionary measures, the suspect managed to steal the diamond,” Col Ahli said.

The security procedure to access the vault requires three employees to open the last gate —  one with a key, second with a security code and third with a electronic number that changes automatically every minute.

Dubai Police investigators analysed 8,620 hours of CCTV footage and questioned 120 people, eventually leading to the suspect’s arrest.

“He planned the robbery for 14 days and smuggled the diamond outside the UAE with the help of a relative who shipped the diamond in a sports shoe box to Sri Lanka,” he said.

The suspect had stopped communicating with all his relatives and friends in  the UAE and was hiding in a neighbouring emirate at the time of his arrest.

“He thought that he would keep hiding for some time and then leave for his country to achieve his dream of becoming a millionaire. He had a security background which helped him steal the diamond,” Col Ahli added.

Investigators used artificial intelligence systems and other advanced technology to identify the suspect.

“Even though the suspect was smart in planning the crime, Dubai Police can always foil the criminals’ plan,” Col Ahli said.