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  (Source: Reprodução/EPTV)
Tablets, smartphones, and notebook computers were among the trove of 40,000 Samsung devices stolen

On Sunday, Brazilians continued to celebrate their nation's victory in the quarterfinals of the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) 2014 World Cup.
 
But near the nation's largest city of São Paulo, a factory of the world's largest smartphone maker -- Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) -- fell victim to a serious crime as armed robbers (or "bandidos" as the Portuguese call them) stormed a manufacturing plant.  The bandits made off with approximately 40,000 devices worth millions in U.S. dollars.

I. Samsung Plant is Stormed

The bandits struck Samsung Eletronica da Amazonia Ltda., the subsidiary of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, during the evening shift on Sunday.
 
The plant is located in Campinas, 96 km (~60 mi) northwest of São Paulo.  Home to over 1 million people, Campinas has become known as "Brazil's Silicon Valley" given the increasing electronics manufacturing presence in the region.
 
The armed bandits carjacked an employee shuttle, which they used to reach the plant.  Once inside they took hostage the plant's staff. Supervisors were forced to open the gates, allowing seven trucks to enter.  The bandits proceeded to load up the trucks with 40,000 finished Samsung laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Samsung's Brazil plant
Samsung's Campinas plant is pictured here in a 2011 photograph. [Image Source: AFP]

The general details of the incident have been widely reported by several sources.

The Financial Times writes:

Samsung said on Tuesday its factory near Sao Paulo was attacked by about 20 heavily-armed bandits... About seven armed assailants initially stopped a shuttle on its way to the factory in the city of Campinas and took over the vehicle with eight employees on board. The assailants proceeded with two of employees to the factory, after setting five people free at a remote location. Then they disarmed security guards and gathered the rest of the plant’s employees, while allowing more culprits into the plant, according to the state civil police force... They made off with stashes of the loot, using seven trucks.

Robbers
The robbers that took control of the Samsung plant are seen here in security camera footage.
[Image Source: Reprodução/EPTV]

Reuters adds more details, writing:

After stopping the shuttle on its way to the factory, 7 armed assailants took over the vehicle while colleagues took all but two of the eight employees originally on board to a remote location, where they were set free.

Just before midnight, the assailants proceeded with the two other employees to the factory, where they disarmed security guards, gathered the rest of the plant's employees and made sure none of them could communicate with the outside.

With the coast clear, the attackers then allowed 13 other culprits, driving the getaway trucks, into the factory. The robbers, communicating with one another by radio and cell phones, then proceeded to load the vehicles with the loot. 

Samsung loading

Brazil truck in Samsung robbery
The thieves needed 7 trucks to haul away their captured loot. [Image Source: Reprodução/EPTV]

Some details in various reports of the incident have conflicted.  Reuters reported (based on a statement from a Samsung spokesperson) that roughly 100 employees were taken hostage, while The Financial Times (UK) claimed the number was closer to 50. 

II. Brazil Grows Increasingly Dangerous For Manufacturers

The Financial Times and a report in The Wall Street Journal indicated the stolen goods were worth 14 million Reais -- about $6.3M USD (for an average device price of around $158 USD).  But most other reports -- including one from a ZDNet Brazilian editor -- say the real figure quoted by police and Samsung representatives was 80 million Reias, which works out to roughly $36.2M USD at current exchange rates (perhaps The FT report forgot the '3'?).  That works out to an average device price of $905 USD, which is certainly possible given that many Samsung laptops retail for $1,500-2,000 USD.

At least one report claims 380 million Reias ($171M USD) in goods were stolen, but that figure seems impossibly high.  According to Globos, a local news agency, the $6.3M USD estimate is the correct one -- the initial estimate was high.

Galaxy S5
The Samsung Galaxy S5 with Galaxy Gear smartwatches [Image Source: Reuters]

In the grand scheme of things, that's a small dent in Samsung's profit which was just forecast to be 7.2T won ($7.1B USD).  But despite the relatively small monetary loss and the good fortune that nobody was seriously injured in the robbery, the incident is a stark reminder of the growing dangers facing business in Brazil.
 
According to a report by The Associated Press, cargo thefts in Brazil's "Silicon Valley" have risen from 425 in 2012, to 657 in 2013.  According to The Guardian, police suggested that the thieves likely had inside help with the Samsung heist given its scope and sophistication.
 
That will surely be an unsettling thought for managers at General Electric Comp. (GE), Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ), and Dell, Inc. -- all of which have large manufacturing plants in or near Campinas.
 
Apple, Inc. (AAPL), whose products are reportedly manufactured at a plant in nearby Jundiaí, São Paulo, already knows to worry.  It suffered in 2012 $1.8M USD (4 million Reais) in estimated losses when robbers stole 12 loads of iPads and iPhones in a heist at the Guarulhos International Airport.

Sources: Globo [Google Translated], Reuters, The Associated Press, The Financial Times





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