A container holding $600 million worth of loose diamonds was left sitting with a gaping hole on the bottom at the same JFK warehouse where thieves swiped $1.2 million in cash last week.
In both instances, the crates arrived on Swiss airlines flights from Zurich.
“Someone could have put their arm inside the cargo container and taken what was inside,” a source said.
A Port Authority cop spotted the damaged cargo container Thursday at around 1:35 p.m., an hour after the flight landed, sources said.
Although it was still sealed, the container “had a gap of several inches on the bottom and parcels were visible inside.”
The contents included up to $600 million worth of diamonds that were destined for jewelers in New York City and elsewhere, sources said.
“It was extremely easy for anyone to put in their arm there and take something out of there,” the source added.
Police supervisors and representatives for SwissPort, the cargo shipper, moved the container to a “secure unpacking location” where officials compared the inventory inside with a shipping manifest.
Nothing was found to have been stolen or lost.
Unlike last Saturday’s robbery, where thieves used a forklift to puncture the crate in order to remove stacks of cash, the cargo containing the diamonds was “probably compromised by age and use,” said a source.
The cash robbery went unnoticed for two days, when the crates were opened at an East Rutherford, NJ, Federal Reserve center. The thieves left behind about $92 million.
Sources said it was being investigated as an inside job, and the FBI planned to give polygraph tests to airport workers who had access to Building 22.
SwissPort International Ltd., which is based in Zurich, is the formal name of the firm that owned the cargo container containing the diamonds.
The company ships 3.5 million tons of cargo yearly on behalf of some 650 client-companies and is active at 180 airports in 37 countries, according to the company’s Web site.