Video: Two arrested in shocking armed robbery at Tefaf art fair in Maastricht
This story was updated with new information about the arrests.
An armed robbery at the Tefaf art fair in Maastricht led to two arrests on Tuesday, the Limburg authorities concerned. Video from the scene matched police and witness statements that four people were involved in the robbery, but it was not immediately clear what was stolen. According to L1, authorities later used privacy screens to block the stand occupied by English jewellery firm Symbolic & Chase from public view.
The police evacuated the Tefaf art fair in Maastricht after the robbery. It is not clear what, if anything, was stolen. There were no reported injuries in the immediate aftermath. Police were dispatched to the scene by 11:40 a.m.
"Two arrests were made in the investigation into the robbery of Tefaf in Maastricht," police said 90 minutes later. "Some roads and the Koning Willem Alexandertunnel are closed to traffic." The tunnel makes up one stretch of the A2 highway in the Limburg capital. Rijkswaterstaat also confirmed portions of the A2 were closed due to a police investigation.
The video appeared to show four men dressed in sport coats and slacks. One of the men was smashing a display window with a sledgehammer repeatedly. He was wearing glasses, a flat cap, and black sneakers. Two of the men, who were also wearing caps, and appeared to be holding weapons to keep the gathered crowd away, while the fourth man struggled with items in his hands before running off with the others.
A police spokesperson told NOS that eyewitnesses saw four armed men with at least one gun and an ax enter the art fair and try to break open display cases containing diamonds. According to the witnesses, they failed to break the cases open and fled the scene. Photos from the scene show at least two display cases with shattered glass.
This is not the first robbery at Tefaf. A diamond necklace worth approximately 1.2 million euros was stolen on the first day of the fair in March 2008. Two of the four suspects in that case were convicted that summer, and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
That happened at the Hancocks of London stand, which was again hit in a robbery during the closing hours of the 2010 TEFAF. The robbers in that case stole a platinum ring adorned with sapphires and diamonds, and a 7-carat diamond pendant, worth about 860 thousand euros.
The Tefaf art fair is held in the MECC event center. The art fair started on June 24 and will end on Thursday, June 30.