Coming soon: 'Dome Heist - the movie'

'It's the hard glitter of diamonds that will give this raid a special status in the annals of crime'
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"I don't believe anyone was hurt, but there were a lot of armed police involved in the operation," said an unnamed security guard about the foiled diamond heist at the Dome yesterday. "This gang certainly had intent."

"I don't believe anyone was hurt, but there were a lot of armed police involved in the operation," said an unnamed security guard about the foiled diamond heist at the Dome yesterday. "This gang certainly had intent."

It's hard to disagree with the guard's shrewd analysis that the felons "had intent". Since they also had a JCB digger to smash through the perimeter fence and the Dome gates; since they were tooled up with "hammers, sledgehammers and nail-guns". Not to mention the smoke grenades that kicked off their assault on the vaults. You should be pretty confident of making a charge of "intent to rob" stand up in court.

Unsuccessful or not, it was a sensational blag by anyone's standards. For connoisseurs of bold, daring, up-front, kick-arse criminality, it really is right up there with the Brinks-Mat bullion robbery.

Except that the Dome robbery had an extra factor: diamonds. And it's the hard glitter of their presence that will give this raid a special status in the annals of crime. For diamonds are now the currency, the style reference, the image commodity we most admire. Their combination of romance and hardness, of depth and coldness, of sparkle and infrangibility is something nobody, from Victoria Beckham to an East End tough guy with a nail-gun, can resist.

The perfection of diamonds puts a spell on us; we can believe them to be cursed or blessed. From the Koh-i-noor to the De Beers Millennium Star - the 203-carat pear-shaped beauty that was the jewel in the Money Zone's crown - we invest them with a kind of sacred awe, as though to gaze at them were to inspect the eyes of God.

When De Beers first brought the Millennium Star from the Congo in the early 1990s, one of the the cutters-and-polishers later reported, "We spent six months just looking at it and studying it."

More prosaic is the clout it carries among villains, especially those of a romantic disposition; and, in a world that confuses insouciant wickedness with cool, the acquisition of sparklers by criminal means is the last word in style. Which is why the phrase "complete bastard" mutated, at some point, into "a rough diamond" before changing to "diamond geezer" in the Eighties.

And why Guy Ritchie's charming villains made Snatch, about a diamond blag in Hatton Garden. And why Quentin Tarantino's black-suited Reservoir Dogs argued and bled and shot each other after a diamond robbery. And why the dream that inspires George Clooney in the classy movie Out of Sight is a collection of diamonds owned by a fellow con he meets in prison.

More than cash, gold bullion, armaments or revenge, the pursuit of diamonds is considered a legitimate dream for larcenous visionaries. Three years ago, there was a hint of pride in press reports of the "criminal mastermind" Kenneth Noye's million-quid heist at Cartier, so reminiscent of the film Rififi. The Mirror reported Britain's biggest diamond robbery in 1993 at Graff the jewellers, full of praise for the "ice-cool bandits" who pinched £7m-worth of the icy gems. If yesterday's Dome robbers hadn't been nicked, they'd have been signed up for a film by now.

Which gives me an idea. As more details emerge about the thwarted plot - the getaway speedboat, the 100 hymn-singing children in the Mind Zone - you begin to feel that only in a movie would you meet such elaborate planning, such police surveillance, such Sweeney-meets- Italian Job excitement.

Mightn't we turn this to good effect? If someone were to stage a reconstruction of the robbery, complete with armed cops, JCB, nail-guns and speedboat every day - well, I'd pay good money to see it. Wouldn't you? Mr Ritchie? Mr Tarantino? Let's go to work.

* j.walsh@independent.co.uk

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