RLG jewellery heist: How thieves walked away with R300m in luxury goods - report

A gang of thieves used hammers, chisels and angle grinders to break into RLG (Richemont Luxury Goods), which is part of Johann Rupert's Richemont business group on Friday, getting away with R300m worth of jewellery in the heist.

The Sunday Times has detailed how the gang took nine hours to conduct their operation at RLG offices in Johannesburg which supplies boutique jewellery stores with items such as diamond watches by Montblanc and Cartier, two of the brands owned by Richemont.

The group of 15 individuals were targeting luxury watches, necklaces and earrings recently flown into the country with an estimated cost value of R50m and a retail value of R300m, the publication added.

It all reportedly began with the thieves approaching the office boom gate in two bakkies and a security vehicle under the pretence that they were seeking directions.

The guards were overpowered, stripped and left tied up in the guard hut.

Some of the thieves proceeded to enter the premises, while others dressed in security gear manned the entrance.

ALSO READ: Richemont warehouse robbed of R300m in jewellery - report

The gang of thieves completed the operation in under 10 minutes, and this included replacing the locks so that security would not realise there was forced entry, according to the publication.

When the alarm was triggered, Fidelity ADT guards arrived at the boom gate entrance and thought that the (fake) Stallion Security guards manning the gate were authentic, and therefore left the premises under the belief that "everything was in order", the publication reported.

A security source told the Sunday Times that CCTV footage showed the gang only left nine hours later, with the truck and bakkies escorted by the "security van".

"There is no rush or speeding off. They drive out calmly. They left behind some boxes with lower-value items. What they took was the high-end and unique items, such as watches, some of which we have been told sell for over R200 000 a piece," the security source said.

This is believed to be one of the many rising attacks on jewellery stores across the country.

Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo told News24 on Sunday that the case has since been escalated to the organised crime unit at provincial level for further investigation.

Police appeal

"No arrests have been made and no jewellery recovered at this stage.

"We are still appealing to anyone who might have information that [could] help in the investigation to please contact the nearest police station or Crime Stop on 08600 10111," he said.

According to Forbes, Rupert is the chairperson of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont. The company is best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc.

Rupert has a reported net worth of $6.2 bn (about R94.8bn).

Rupert was in the news recently when it came to light that he had met with EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu at an exclusive wine estate in Stellenbosch to discuss business, according to a book by News24 assistant editor Pieter du Toit, titled The Stellenbosch Mafia: Inside the Billionaire's Club.

News24 reported that despite the party and Shivambu's ideological stance on white monopoly capital and Rupert, Shivambu had asked the Remgro chairperson and the founder of FirstRand Bank, Gerrit "GT" Ferreira, for assistance to build a hospital in Limpopo.

Shivambu has denied this.

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