25 Nisan 2011 Pazartesi

'Topkapı' Redux - Gold Heist in Istanbul


(Hürriyet Newspaper and Haberinyeri Internet Site, 25 April 2011)

An international gang has emerged in the aftermath of the theft of 20 kilos
of gold belonging to Kapılıçarşı (Covered Bazar) jeweler Arif Üstündağ,
stolen from an armored car in Istanbul. It is understood that the gold
belonging to Üstündağ was melted down in the workshop of  his fellow
jeweler Apraham Ohanyan.

The armored car carrying 39 kilos of gold owned by Arif Üstündağ, a jeweler
for 25 years, left Kapılıçarşı en route to the mint in Beşiktaş on 12 April.
Guards in the armored car stopped it when passengers in another car warned of
a flat tire. It is understood that while the tire was being changed one of
the briefcases in the armored car went missing.

Police waded through 160 hours of images from 60 cameras and determined
that the armored car had been followed by a rented car and a taxi after
leaving Kapılıçarşı. When the armored car stopped at a red light in Eminönü
a taxi came up along side and the guards were told that one of the tires was
flat. At the same time a motorcycle rider plunged a knife into one of the tires.
While two of the armored car guards fixed the flat tire two people who had
followed the armored car opened its doors and took a case holding 20 kilos
of gold.

Leaving the scene of the incident, Venezuelans Juan Jose James Baracamonte
(42), Jose Angel Badillo Gomez (50) and Diyors Alexis Volcan Molina (28)
met with the heist's mastermind, Brazilian Al Saight (41), and his assistant,
an Italian named Plojian, at a hotel in Taksim, where the Venezuelans handed
over the case to Saight. The suspects then went to the workshop of Apraham
Ohanyan (53), who like Üstündağ has a jewelry shop in Kapılıçarşı, in the
Ikitelli section of Istanbul. Here four 24-carat ingots, each weighing one kilo,
were melted down into 22-carat form. The othe ingots were made into two-kilo

Ohanyan's specifics were inscribed on the gold ingots and the Brazilian Saight
and the Italian Plojian took the gold from the workshop. The Venezuelans
flew out of Atatürk Airport for France, while Saight and Plojian went to Beirut.
It was reported that Ohanyan, who melted down the gold, has a jewelrey shop
close to that of the gold's owner Üstündağ. The gang may have had a hand in
the theft of 12 kilos of gold in Karaköy last year.

Apraham Ohanyan, his brother-in-law Garabet Bododoğan and taxi driver
Murat Ö. were arrested. Ohanyan's partner and the workshop workers were
released. The gold has not been located. Information has been passed to Interpol
with regard to the Brazilian, Italian and Venezuelans.

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