Security at diamond mines the world over makes antiterrorism security efforts at airports look like they’re conducted by the Boy Scouts. In Namibia, for instance, at the De Beers-owned Oranjemund claim, the only cars in the town in the 1970s were company cars that could never leave its borders. Private vehicles were banned when an enterprising engineer removed several bolts from the chassis of his car, bored out the middle for holding diamonds, and then screwed them back in tight. The fact that he was actually caught is testament in itself to how high the security was; from then on, De Beers outlawed new cars. All vehicles in the town had to stay there until they rusted away. One worker at the same site stole diamonds by tying a small bag to a homing pigeon, which would fly the diamonds back to his house. One day, he got too ambitious and overloaded his winged courier; the pigeon was so laden with stolen diamonds, it couldn’t fly over the fence and was discovered by security guards a short time later. They reclaimed the diamonds and let the bird go, following it to the man’s home, where he was arrested after work.
From Greg Campbell’s recent Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones.