On Tuesday, June 28th, the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in the Dutch city of Maastricht was thrown into chaos when a gang of four men in suit jackets and flat caps smashed a display case and made off with a bag of jewelry. Authorities were completely baffled about how the group could smuggle a gun and a sledgehammer past security, especially since the targeted display was rather far from the show’s entrance. Some witnesses managed to record the incident, which shows one of the robbers breaking into a glass case belonging to the London jewelers Symbolic & Chase. Meanwhile, another held back witnesses at gunpoint. Dutch police have since apprehended two suspects, while the other two remain at large.
Following the robbery, social media was abuzz with photos of the scene and descriptions from witnesses. But mainly, the most common response was ridicule towards the robbers. Because of their matching jackets and flat caps, many have been referring to the gang as the “Peaky Blinders” robbers. This is in reference to the BBC crime drama Peaky Blinders, where many of the male characters sport similar flat caps. Some commentators have highlighted the robbers’ wardrobe as a sign of amateurism, especially since some effort seemed to have gone into their appearance, while none was made to cover the suspects’ faces. While the two suspects now being held by Dutch police are Belgian nationals, art crime investigator Arthur Brand stated that the daylight robbery bears the hallmarks of some Eastern European criminal groups. “There are gangs in Eastern Europe that have specialized in this method. Although it is also an option that the robbers are also stupid.”