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Netherlands armed robbery stuns onlookers at art fair

Netherlands armed robbery stuns onlookers at art fair
An armed robbery at the Tefaf fine art fair in Maastricht, Netherlands, shocked onlookers as video shows four men with guns smashing cases to steal jewelry. Photo courtesy of La Tribune de l'Art.

June 28 (UPI) -- Two men are in custody as police search for two others Tuesday after an armed robbery stunned onlookers during the Tefaf fine art fair in Maastricht, Netherlands.

Cameras caught the four men, who were wearing sport coats, setting off alarms and attempting to smash glass cases before running off. The footage inside the fair shows one man hitting the glass with a sledgehammer as another uses a gun to keep shocked onlookers from interfering.

According to police and witnesses, the men failed to break the cases, belonging to London-based dealer Symbolic & Chase, before they took off running. But some eyewitnesses reported one man put something into a bag.

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After the robbery, police evacuated the Tefaf fair, which attracts dealers and buyers from all over the world. There were no reports of any injuries.

"All the stand holders were led outside by security quickly," Robbert van Ham from the Jaski Art Gallery told the Telegraph newspaper. "There was no panic, even if it was a little tense because there was talk of guns being involved."

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Two Belgian nationals, ages 22 and 26, were stopped in a grey car with Belgian plates 90 minutes later and arrested, according to Limburg police, who said the men had an unspecified amount of jewelry with them.

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"Two arrests were made in the investigation into the robbery of Tefaf in Maastricht," police said. "Some roads and the Koning Willem Alexandertunnel are closed to traffic."

In 2008, robbers at the Tefaf fair stole a diamond necklace worth more than a million dollars from the Hancocks of London stand. Two of the four robbers were convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Two years later, robbers hit the same stand and stole a sapphire and diamond ring, as well as a 7-carat diamond pendant.

The Tefaf art fair is an annual event. It started Friday and runs through Thursday.

The fair tweeted: "Earlier today, #TEFAF was temporarily evacuated due to an incident at the fair. The situation is under control and the fair is still open to visitors and exhibitors."

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