London (CNSNews.com) - In scenes reminiscent of a James Bond movie, London's troubled Millennium Dome and the nearby Thames River Tuesday morning saw police foil a daring attempt to commit what would have been the greatest robbery in history.
Scotland Yard said robbers used a digger to smash through a perimeter fence and the gates of the Dome in a bid to steal 12 of the world's finest diamonds, on display inside.
But police -- who had an early warning and had been anticipating a possible robbery "for months"-- nabbed four of the robbers inside the visitor attraction and another two while trying to escape in a speedboat on the river.
The diamonds in display include the 203-carat De Beers Millennium Star. In total they are valued at around half a billion dollars.
Detective Superintendent Jon Shatford, who led the 100-man police operation, said had the heist succeeded, "this would have been the largest robbery in the world."
Failing finances and poor attendance have made the once-vaunted Dome a huge embarrassment for Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, and it is scheduled to shut down on the last day of the year.
The Dome, surrounding Docklands and River Thames were the location of a spectacular boat-chase sequence in the James Bond film, The World is Not Enough, which climaxed with the destruction of the MI6 secret service river-front headquarters further west.