Body-camera footage shows aftermath of multimillion-dollar Brink’s big rig heist

VIDEO | 09:37
Body-camera footage shows aftermath of multimillion-dollar Brink’s big rig heist

Video of a conversation between Brink’s drivers and sheriff’s deputies provides a new look at the initial response to a July 2022 crime that victimized 14 jewelers.


In the dead of night, the sheriff’s deputies turned on their body cameras and approached two drivers standing beside a big rig bathed in the eerie light of a Grapevine truck stop.

The deputies had come to the Flying J Travel Center in Lebec, Calif., in response to a vehicle burglary. What they found in the predawn hours of July 11, 2022, was a Brink’s tractor-trailer that had just been breached in a brazen late-night heist. Thieves had stolen millions of dollars worth of jewelry, watches, gems and other items that had been on display at a trade show in San Mateo a day earlier.

As Jeremy Viger and David Swigart of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were about to learn, the L.A.-bound 18-wheeler had parked at the truck stop a little after 2 a.m. The heist occurred during a 27-minute window in which driver James Beaty slumbered in the vehicle’s sleeper berth and his partner, Tandy Motley, ate a meal at the Flying J.


The drivers’ initial conversation with the officers was captured by their body cameras, whose footage The Times recently obtained. The roughly 45-minute recordings, which cover the same interaction from different vantage points, offer a new look at the aftermath of the crime, which victimized 14 jewelers whose merchandise had been on display at the International Gem and Jewelry Show.

The deputies began speaking with the Brink’s drivers a little before 4 a.m. The lot was filled with big rigs parked in orderly rows. All was quiet. Still, the officers were mindful of the possibility that the thieves remained nearby.

“We are gonna post up here because you never know — they could still be lurking,” Viger said.

In the year or so since the Brink’s vehicle made its doomed journey down Interstate 5, law enforcement officials have said little about the ongoing investigation, which is being conducted by the Sheriff’s Department and FBI.

In November, The Times reported that investigators believe the thieves tracked the big rig from San Mateo using multiple vehicles, according to two people with knowledge of the inquiry. The criminals waited for an opportune moment to break into the tractor-trailer and may have not known how big a haul awaited them, the sources said. Indeed, the thieves made off with more than 20 bags of merchandise in what could be among the biggest jewelry heists of all time.

The Sheriff’s Department and the Brink’s drivers did not respond to requests for comment.

Details of the conversation between the drivers and the officers were first disclosed by The Times in May after a transcript of the body camera footage was included in a legal filing made by lawyers representing jewelry companies whose wares were taken in the heist.


Among the revelations in the transcript and video: Motley told the deputies that a man at the jewelry show had been watching him. “He was staring me right in the eye,” said the driver, who had been on hand at the San Mateo County Event Center while the jewelers’ cargo was loaded onto the tractor-trailer.

The Times previously reported that suspicious men were seen at the expo hall on July 10, 2022, including one sporting an earpiece and a surgical mask whom organizers removed from the premises. Two people familiar with the investigation of the heist have said that one of the men seen in or around the event center could have been involved in the crime.

“I’m pretty sure we were followed from the show where we got loaded,” Motley told the deputies.

However, investigators haven’t linked the suspicious men at the jewelry show to the heist.

Throughout their conversation with the deputies, the drivers discussed the value of the load they were transporting. Beaty initially pegged it at $2.7 million, though Brink’s later said in a legal filing that the stolen shipments were worth more than three times that amount.

The value of the stolen jewelry is the subject of dueling lawsuits — one filed by Brink’s against the jewelers whose merchandise was pilfered, and another filed by the jewelers against Brink’s and other parties.

The Richmond, Va.-based company’s lawsuit, filed in August in New York, has sought to limit any payout to the jewelers to $8.7 million — a figure that, according to Brink’s, reflects the value declared by the merchants on shipping manifests. The jewelry companies, meanwhile, have said in their lawsuit that the merchandise was worth around $100 million. Their complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court about two weeks after Brink’s brought its suit, alleged negligence and other claims.


Jerry Kroll, attorney for the jewelers, said that the body-camera footage “contradicts the facts that Brink’s certified in its complaint against the victims.”

The video, he said, “reinforces the evidence we have of Brink’s’ gross negligence.”

Dana Callahan, a Brink’s spokesperson, declined to comment about the video.

VIDEO | 06:13
LA Times Today: Body-camera footage shows aftermath of multimillion-dollar Brink’s big rig heist

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.