Thursday, September 13, 2012

'Brilliant' Diamond Thief Swallows Fake Stone While Accomplice Flees Undetected With Real One

Last week we learned of a Chinese man who was arrested for consuming a $13,000 diamond at the Facets jewelry exhibition in Sri Lanka. The culprit, Chou Wan, became the punch line of bloggers and news outlets around the world as the humiliated Chinese national was led away in handcuffs, X-rayed to prove the 1.5-carat stone was, indeed, in his belly, given heavy doses of laxatives and watched 24/7 until the stone passed.

Yesterday we learned that it's Chou who may get the last laugh.

The gastric saga took a surprising turn when the recovered "diamond" turned out to be a fake. Now police believe that Chou and an accomplice may have masterminded an elaborate scheme where they exchanged the real stone for a fake one and purposely created a dramatic diversion so the partner could slip away undetected.

"The man with the real stone vanished while all the attention was on the man who was seen swallowing a stone that turned out to be fake," police spokesman Ajith Rohana told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Suresh de Silva, director of the Belgrade International gem store, told AFP last week how two Chinese men approached his stall at the trade show and asked to examine 1.5-carat diamond very closely. De Silva then noticed one of the men putting something in his mouth. "When I shouted," he proudly said at the time, "we managed to catch the man who swallowed the stone."

Not the right man. Not the right stone.

Incidentally, this isn't the first story this year about a thief trying to consume fine gemstones. In May, a Canadian man was arrested for swallowing a $20,000 diamond after switching it for a fake at a jewelry store. In that case, the real 1.7-carat stone passed and the jewelry store was able to get their diamond back.

A Utah jewelry store was not as fortunate. In July, a woman created a distraction when the $4,000 diamond ring she was trying on at a jewelry counter got "stuck." In the confusion, the real diamond ring was swapped for a fake one. Surveillance tape later revealed how the thief switched the rings and swallowed the real one.

During an interview with detectives a few days later, the woman admitted that she had consumed the ring and waited for the “natural digestive process” to occur before pawning the ring for $600.

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