BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Two Brink’s guards were tasked last month with transporting millions of dollars in jewelry and gemstones from San Mateo to a secure storage yard in Los Angeles.
When they arrived at Flying J Truck Stop in Lebec, one guard slept and another left the big rig for 27 minutes as thieves stole nearly two dozen bags of jewelry, according to a lawsuit filed by the jewelers.
The guards “failed miserably,” the suit says.
“One left a truckload of jewelry and gemstones for a half-hour completely out of his sight at a remote truck stop while he was buying food, and the other literally was asleep on the job, snoozing away just a few feet from where thieves were stealing approximately $100 million of plaintiffs’ property,” according to the suit filed Aug. 19 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The heist left the “small, mostly older jewelers, without the means to earn their living,” according to the suit.
Of 73 large orange bags the truck had been carrying, 22 were missing, according to the suit.
The suit alleges negligence and breach of contract, among other causes of action, and also names Flying J as a defendant, arguing the plaza had inadequate lighting and video or other surveillance of the parking area.
The actual amount stolen is under dispute.
Brink’s argues the manifests for the missing bags lists them as having a total value of $8.7 million, and the security company isn’t responsible if the jewelers undervalued their property, according to a suit the company filed Aug. 4 seeking to limit its liability.
“On information and belief, Brink’s believes that each defendant seeks to recover more from Brink’s than is permitted under the contract,” according to the suit filed in federal court in New York.
The Los Angeles Times first reported the suits last week. No arrests have been made. The Times reported sheriff’s investigators have acquired video related to the theft.
Following a San Mateo gem and jewelry show on July 10, an armored big rig was loaded with 73 bags containing jewelry, according to the Brink’s suit. The truck left around midnight, the shipment ultimately intended for a jewelry show in Pasadena.
When they left, one guard slept while the other drove “in compliance with Department of Transportation regulations,” according to the suit. The truck briefly stopped at the Buttonwillow Rest Area on Interstate 5 for the driver to use the bathroom.
At 2:05 a.m., they arrived at the Flying J. The driver left his partner in the sleeping berth and went inside for food.
Upon returning at 2:32 a.m., he noticed both the red plastic seal around the truck and its rear lock had been cut, according to the suit. The guard who had been sleeping said he “did not see or hear anything unusual,” the suit says.