msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/14/2011 1:27:34 PM ET 2011-09-14T17:27:34

A thief in Spain may have bitten off more than he could chew when he stole a diamond and then swallowed it, only to be caught when police made him undergo an X-ray.

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Police said the thief stole the stone, worth about $16,500, from a restaurant in the luxury beach resort of Marbella. A British tourist reported that a purse with the diamond in it was stolen by two well-dressed men who entered a restaurant.

Hours later, officers stopped a car at a routine checkpoint, and discovered there were four men with criminal records in the car. They also found the purse inside the car, police said in a statement, as well as cash and other valuables.

"During the operation, officers noticed one of the men putting his hand to his mouth," police said, according to AFP.

This raised the suspicions of the officers, who took all four occupants of the car to the hospital.

"To find the stone, those arrested were taken to a medical center where they underwent X-rays, and the diamond was located inside the stomach of one of them, who admitted swallowing it," the police statement said.

The detained men were not identified. And the police did not immediately say how they planned to retrieve the gem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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