SCY1103 Physical Security


Analyzing the Antwerp Diamond Heist case, we will discuss (argue) the concept of a systems approach in physical security and discuss why security decay could reduce the effectiveness a well-designed PPS.



This report examines the Antwerp Diamond case. It is widely believed to have been the largest heist of the century.

(2016) found that the thieves took gold, diamonds, as well as other jewellery, totaling $100 million.

The safest place in the world is the one that protects valuable stones. No one can steal them.

But, reality has a different view. More than 123 out 180 safe deposits of selves were destroyed in the robbery ( 2017, February 16th, 2003).

This assessment has the primary objective to show the system’s effectiveness in physical security and the relevant reasons for security decay.

These two concerns will also be discussed through the Antwerp Diamond case.


Physical Security: Systems Approach

Chen (2017) stated that physical security refers to the protection of software, hardware and internet network from physical acts and events.

Each organization uses a system approach to avoid serious damage or loss.

Charney (2015) added that physical security includes protection against flood, fire and burglary as well as terrorism.

Ziemer (2016) stated that the organization’s managing authorities planned their security system in layers so that the system can be protected from failure of any one layer.

(2016) outlined a security model that includes five layers. The outermost layer represents cyber security and the physical security. The next layer represents stable control.

The third layer is for reducing unexpected failures. While the other two layers are intended to demonstrate the reduction in human error as well as improved emergency response (Lafleur and al., 2016).

Image 1: Five-layer security planning

Antwerp Diamond Heist case: Leonardo Notarbartolo rents an office in a $700/month building.

The diamond traders are the owners of the diamonds and valuable stones found there.

The vaults’ 10 layers of security were broken and all the precious stones, including diamonds, was stolen by the robbers in one night ( 2017, 2017).

The security system included a combination dial with 0-99 password option, keypads that allow you to disable sensor locks, steel lockers light sensors, magnetic sensors and internal and exterior security cameras.

The arrangement can be compared to the model as it represents the innermost layer of security. All authentication details are linked with the internet security servers.

Image 2: Antwerp Diamond Center vault has 10 layers of security protection

It should be mentioned that the entire floor was secured by a nerve centre at the entrance.

(2014) stated that metal turnstiles were used to protect the entrance and that all visitors are questioned in order to confirm their authenticity.

This can be linked to the second level of protection, “maintaining stability control”. Visitors are asked questions in order to cross check that the gold is safe.

It also offers 100 million combinations that make it difficult for anyone to steal from this vault.

Chowdhary & Saluja (2014) show that the entrance door to the vault is strong enough to withstand 12 hour of continuous drilling.

However, the seismic alarm can identify the first sign of drilling and make it almost impossible to steal the vaults.

Additional monitoring of the door included a pair metal plates that were abutting to the wall.

These plates create a magnetic field, which when opened triggers an alarm. (Sokolnikov 2017, 2017).

This could be explained by the protection of “reducing unexpected device failures”.

This is due to the heat sensors, which detect heat and temperature intruders’ bodies and ring the alarm Potyrailo.

(2012) stated that all pedestrians who wish to gain entry to the building must be subject to state-of the-art security measures.

In Antwerp World Diamond Centre, electronic photos of visitors are taken at entry and exit. These images are transmitted to central security offices so that records can be kept for each visitor.

This security measure is meant to reduce human error.

Jain and Nandakumar (2012) argue that the final stage, which is “improvement of emergency response”, is ignored and that there are not police and guards to protect the vault.

It is easy for an intruder or criminal to take valuable items from the safe because the security system does not protect the diamonds.

Security Decay has reduced the effectiveness of well-designed PSPS

(2015) stated that the Physical Protection System (PPS) is a system that combines the work of people with electronic procedures in order to protect valuable goods from theft and sabotage.

(2014) stated that it was also important to think about the management’s response to an apparent threat to the safety and security of valuable property.

Management also responds to the ineffectiveness or provision of security.

Coole and colleagues (2012) suggested a security decay theory which explained how this process should take place.

Image 3: The security decay theory

This framework states that security decay is composed of two main components, apathy, and an incorrect response (Coole et. al. 2012).

(2014) stated that apathy can be caused by inadequate security, and an incorrect reaction is simple due to decay in the security system.

(2012 March) stated that the lack of security threats might be an indicator of apathy. Management can identify the lack of security or lack of consideration as a sign of apathy.

Brooks (2012) and Smith (2012) further affirm that people become apathetic, which can compromise the security system.

The organization is responsible for convincing their employees that the security systems they use are effective.

The Antwerp Diamond heist case was an example. Despite the high security system, the vault is robbed and more that 123 safe lockers were taken ( 2017, 2017).

Staff thought that the security system in their office was the best.

Security decay at Antwerp World Diamond Centre is the main reason.

Leonardo Notarbartolo, the tenant of the office floor, was responsible for the security system.

This person is also a Turin resident and a former jeweler.

It was also discovered that the burglars actually contacted Leonardo Notarbartol in order to get the internal images from the security system.

Leonardo Notarbartol was chosen by them because he is the one who uses the security system. He believes that no one could break the vault.

In order to get the internal images, the burglars bribed Leonardo Notarbartol. This allows the intruders plan their robbery within one night ( 2017,).

The spy pen inside Leonardo Notarbartolo’s pocket captured the images of the vaults as well as the security system. It looks like it is a regular highlight ( 2017).

(2014) argue that this is the initial stage of security decay. In fact, the mastermind behind the robbery was actually Lafleur et al.

The vault information and the entire security system were leaked by the thieves. They were able to disable all alarms. There was also no police or guards.

The first PPS system that worked in AWDC consisted of a heat-sensing and infrared director as well as security cameras.

It was found that, after Friday’s office building closing, on Saturday night, four men, excluding Leonardo Notarbartolo walked into the building from the tower directly behind AWDC.

The use of plastic bags disablingly disabled the heat-sensing INfrared director, as well as security cameras.

The second stage of the security system are the two plates that form the magnetic field. When the magnetic field is disrupted, the security alarm rings.

The burglars used aluminum slab to tap the door’s magnet plates, but no alarm was set off ( 2017, 2017).

The security code was given to the vault and experts did not have any information regarding the brakeage of the vaults’ locks.

Notarbartolo admitted that he used spend more time on security floors in the week preceding the robbery. A spy camera recorded all of it.

This was the time that the combination of security locks was recorded.

This is the second stage.

It was also discovered that burglars also stole heat or light sensors. These are also part of the efficient PPS system. The thieves made them loop so that no heat or lights sensor responded on the night of robbery. ( 2017).

The PPS system of AWDC also includes the recording from the security cameras, which the robbers took with them when they fled the building.

All fingerprint marks from vaults were taken out so that the police could not suspect the true intruder.

So, this is how a secure, secured system, believed to be the best in the world, is hacked.

Image 4: The vault of the Diamond Center after the robbery

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre security decay can be attributed to a lack of regular and proper maintenance of its security system.

The case of AWDC illustrates how even if recordings are made, an intruder may not be able to find the correct code combination if the security system is regularly maintained.

Security decay results from the PPS system with 10 layers protection vault and a lock combination that can be used in 10 million combinations.

This led to security decay and arguments among AWDC members about the security system.

Ineffectiveness of security systems is also due to internal motivations.

In this case, the tenant is aware that the security system exists and has all details.

The intruders are able to exploit the security system and hack all the regularly-used techniques.

Coole (2013) and Kiszelewska (2013) said that internal robbery shouldn’t have been committed if the person is a compliant with their morale.

Ludbey (2016) suggested that organizations should consider the possibility that their employees might also be responsible for scandals or breaches.


The entire security system used to protect the Antwerp Diamond theft case is a five-layer protection system.

All safety measures like burglar alarms as well heat and motion sensors, magnetic fields, electronic fields and a locker key with 10,000,000 combinations are considered.

The fifth level, which is called “improved Emergency Response”, is not considered despite such security.

The vault security system was considered the safest in the world, and there weren’t any police or guards to protect valuables.

This is what a former tenant took with four of the intruders, and $10 million worth diamonds and jewelry was stolen.

According to the assignment, it was also determined that security decay and a belief in internal members is the root cause of security problems that reduces effectiveness of well-designed PPS.

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