WaPo has this article about an interesting diamond theft at Brussels airport. It’s definitely fit for a movie (albeit, a short one). Fairly unbelievable.

It’s the end of the article that I’m interested in:

Philip Baum, an aviation security consultant in Britain, said the robbery was worrying — not because the fence was breached, but because the response did not appear to have been immediate. That, he said, raised questions as to whether alarms were ringing in the right places.

“It does seem very worrying that someone can actually have the time to drive two vehicles onto the airport, effect the robbery, and drive out without being intercepted,” Baum said.

That amount of time would also allow someone to board the plane, he said.

A decade ago the Belgian city of Antwerp, the world capital of diamond-cutting, was the scene of what was probably one of the biggest diamond heists in history, when robbers took precious stones, jewels, gold and securities from the high-security vaults at Antwerp’s Diamond Center, yielding loot that police in 2003 estimated to be worth about $100 million.

Antwerp’s Diamond Center stands in the heart of the high-surveillance diamond district where police and dozens of cameras work around the clock, and security has been beefed up further since the spectacular 2003 robbery.

So here we have an airport that, no doubt, some security expert said was “secure”. And ten years earlier, we have a vault at a diamond center in a high security district in Antwerp that some security expert no doubt said was “secure”. And they both were robbed.

On one point I’ll be brief: there is NO SUCH THING AS INFALLIBLE SECURITY.

On another point I want to linger: complex systems are complex. There are some thing that we just do not and cannot fully understand. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. But we need to recognize the limitations of understanding. While I don’t really know any of the details of the security in place at either facility, I would wager (with confidence) that it would be WRONG to say that security failed. The best experts did everything that they could to secure these places (given a certain set of probably reasonable constraints and probably virtually unlimited resources). It’s just that reality is complex. Humans are complex. Not all situations can be imagined and planned for.

-JD Cross

 

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