May 30, 2009
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Jewels worth six million euros stolen from Paris store

May 30, 2009

PARIS, May 30, 2009 (AFP) - A lone robber armed with a handgun on Saturday 30 May got away with jewellery worth around 6.6 million euros (9.3 million dollars) in a hold-up at the exclusive Chopard store in central Paris, police said.

Photo: AFP/Guillaume Baptiste

The man, in his 50s, dressed in a suit and wearing a Borsalino-style hat passed himself off as a customer to get in through the security door before drawing his weapon, police spokesman Olivier Lebon told reporters.

He ordered staff to give him jewels from the window display.

They did as they were told and the man got away on foot, the whole robbery having taken two minutes, said police.

"A man on his own, well dressed, who could have been a potential client, came into the jewellers, his faced unmasked, at one o'clock," said another source working on the case.

He pulled out a handgun and got staff to give him 12 jewels, said the source. "It happened very quickly," said the source. He did not take the whole contents of the shop window."

Staff in nearby stores in the Place Vendome told reporters they had noticed nothing out of the ordinary at the time.

The theft happened at around 1:00 pm (1100 GMT) at the premises, which are near the Ritz Hotel.

Later Saturday 30 May, only a few leather handbags could be seen in the shop's window.

The robbery took place over the Pentecost weekend, when the city centre was packed with shoppers and tourists. The Place Vendome hosts some of the world's most prestigious jewellery shops.

Chopard makes watches and jewels for the stars and has branches in most of the world's capitals. It also manufactures the distinctive Palme d'Or trophy for the Cannes film festival.

In December thieves staged a record 100-million-dollar jewel heist at the Harry Winston boutique in the posh Avenue Montaigne of the Champs-Elysees.

Suspicion fell on the international gang known as the Pink Panthers.

On May 13 two Serbian alleged members of the gang of jewel thieves were arrested in Paris on suspicion of carrying out armed smash-and-grab raids on stores in Monaco, Switzerland and Germany.

On Thursday 28 May, a Montenegrin former soldier, believed to be a member of the "Pink Panther" gang was sentenced to 15 years in jail for a Saint-Tropez heist.

Dusko Martinovic was also fined 150,000 euros (210,000 dollars) for the robbery in which he and accomplices stole two million euros worth of goods from a jewellers in the chic French Riviera resort.

The network of Balkan robbers is blamed for the theft of goods worth 110 million euros (140 million dollars) in the past decade.

French police have described the group's crimes as "lightning fast hold-ups: daring, but carefully planned down to smallest detail."

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