Immigration records show that on September 4, 1980, good friends, and members of the Outfit, 42-year-old Joseph Jerome ‘Jerry’ Scalise and his partner in crime Arthur Rachel (also 42) arrived at Heathrow Airport. They hailed for a cab and were taken to the Mount Royal Hotel, Marble Arch, London. After taking the luggage to their rooms, they went to a Hertz rental office around the corner from the hotel and hired a green Fiat Mirafiori. They were both listed as drivers, which was in their names, and also paid with one of their credit cards.
Or a combination?
We can consider neither man unintelligent.
Scalise’s father had instilled in his son the importance of education and after attending the prestigious Saint Ignatius College Preparatory School in Chicago’s Near West Side, Scalise won a place at Cincinnati’s Xavier University. However, he dropped out in 1957, aged 20, to pursue a career as a car thief. He received the nickname ‘The Monk’ after he disclosed that when he was a child, he wanted to become a priest.
Arthur Rachel was an intelligent man. They rated his level of intelligence as being a borderline genius. In the 1960s, Rachel, who was serving back to back fifteen-year prison terms for bank robberies, took part in an IQ test. His score of 160 led to him being given the nickname ‘The Brain’ or ‘The Genius.’ While he was in prison, Rachel taught basic computer programming to other prisoners.
They drove the short distance back to the hotel, parked the hired car in the hotel car park, went to their rooms and called it a night. Meeting for breakfast the next morning, they said their goodnight. They planned the job for the following Thursday. They were in no rush.
After breakfast, the two Chicagoans left the car at the hotel and used the underground. They travelled on the central line tube from Marble Arch to Notting Hill Gate where they changed for the circle and district line that would take them to Sloane Square and their final destination, Sloane Street. Location of the flagship store of one of the world’s leading jewelers, Graff (founded by Laurence Graff in 1960). This was an initial surveillance mission. As the days went by, Scalise and Rachel made several trips to the jewelers from their base at the Mount Royal hotel. To pass the time, they would go out sight-seeing, but in the main, they focused on the upcoming bit of work.
On Tuesday, September 9, 1980, posing as customers, the two well-dressed men were let into the Graff store. The door was operated electronically from inside the store. Unknown to the employees, the two American visitors were there to survey the stores’ security. The next time they visited the shop, two days later, they committed the audacious robbery.
Just before 11.00 am on Thursday, September 11, 1980, a green car parked, in Basil Street near the Knightsbridge branch of the London fire brigade and a short distance away from fashionable Sloane Street. The robbery went perfectly. The five members of staff and two customers did what they were told and laid on the carpeted floor. The two robbers then smashed their way into two display cabinets, taking as much jewellery as they could. A process which was easier for Rachel because of Scalise having a deformed left hand on which he is missing four fingers. They were out of the store in less than a minute, heading back to the getaway car. They soon abandoned the car and completed their journey to Heathrow by taxi.
At first, the haul was estimated at $2.4 million but was changed, the next day, to an est. of $3.6 million. Included in the haul of fourteen pieces of high-end jewellery which the duo stole were a $482,000 marquise cut diamond ring, an African ruby valued at $72,300 and the famous ‘Marlborough Diamond’, but the haul could have been of a much larger value.
Did they steal the wrong diamond?
Stay tuned for Chapter 3 where I look at the ‘Idol’s Eye’.
Story was first published in The Best New True Crime Stories series by Mitzi Szereto.
- The Theft of The Marlborough Diamond – Chapter 2 - February 14, 2023
- The History of The Marlborough Diamond – Chapter 1 - January 27, 2023
- The Dillinger Years: Harry Pierpont – The Mentor (Part Two) - January 4, 2021