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France

Armed robbers steal €3m in jewels from Paris store

© Flickr/rosebennet

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-20

Two armed thieves in bullet-proof vests made off with three million euros worth of jewellery from an upmarket department store in central Paris on Tuesday evening, just 24 hours after a gang seized €37m in diamonds from Brussels airport.

Armed robbers targeted an upscale jeweller in central Paris on Tuesday, making off with valuables estimated to be worth up to three million euros (around four million dollars), police said.

The two men armed with handguns held up the first-floor De Beers concession in the world-famous Printemps department store in Paris’s bustling 9th arrondissement neighbourhood. The thieves did not open fire and no one was injured, witnesses said.

The men approached the concession at around 6.45pm, around an hour before the store was due to close, and asked a salesperson to unlock the display cases at the South African boutique. They then emptied the contents of two cases and left by a staircase at the rear of the building.

A witness told AFP that is appeared the pair were well informed about the store’s layout, which is fitted with a sophisticated surveillance system. Sources close to the police said the men did not wear balaclavas, but did not mention if their faces were disguised.

Shoppers unaware

Staff leaving the store at 8pm said there was no panic during the heist, with most employees and shoppers being completely unaware of the heist.

The incident comes less than 24 hours after masked thieves staged a spectacular five-minute robbery on the tarmac of Brussels airport, stealing diamonds worth 37 million euros ($50m).

According to experts, the number of armed in-store thefts has increased threefold in France over the past five years.

De Beers declined to comment on the theft.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-02-20

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