WSP: Diamonds worth $400K stolen on I-5

KING COUNTY, Wash. (KOIN) -- What appeared to be a carjacking turned out to be a diamond heist Tuesday on I-5 in Washington state. Authorities said it's the 4th one within the last few years in the area.

Washington State Patrol said they received a call that an attempted carjacking had happened on westbound SR 520 to northbound I-5 shortly before 4 p.m.

When troopers arrived on scene, they determined it was a diamond theft.

According to the victim, he was traveling around the Seattle and Bellevue area to clients and jewelers and was on his way to his last client in Seattle.

State patrol deputies said the victim was driving a rental car -- a Nissan Ultima -- and was unaware he was being tracked.

The victim said he was exiting SR 520 to I-5 when a dark-colored sedan made an abrupt lane change and slammed on the brakes -- causing him to come to a complete stop. 

The victim said after he stopped, a second vehicle intentionally struck his car from behind and 2 men wearing bandanas approached his vehicle. The suspects reportedly broke out both front windows, struck him several times and grabbed the bag of diamonds.

The diamonds -- worth $400,000 -- were under his leg along with the key fob for the car and his phone. 

According to officials, the suspects were armed and demanded the victim to open the trunk where they took a large suitcase.

Authorities said the victim had his phone tracked to 650 NE 42nd St. in Seattle where it was discovered abandoned in a grassy area. 

This heist was remarkably similar to 3 other local diamond and jewelry robberies in the last 3 years, according to detectives. All of them happened on freeway ramps.

Cindi West with King County Sheriff's Office told KOIN's affiliate in Seattle KIRO about an October 2016 incident when diamond dealers from Hong Kong were robbed the exact same way.

"Two bad guys get out of the car, run back to their car, break out windows of the car, one of them punches the driver a couple of times and then they took a bag containing the diamonds out from the backseat," West said.

Agencies from Bellevue, Seattle-Tacoma, Kirkland and Seattle are creating a task force to investigate what could be an international jewelry theft ring. 

The victim was treated at the scene then transported to the WSP office to be interviewed.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Detective Vik Mauro at 425.401.7746.


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