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Value of Carlton jewellery heist raised to €102 million

© afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-29

The estimated value of the jewellery stolen from the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes in a weekend heist has been raised to more than €102 million, French prosecutors said Monday. Police previously said €40 million in jewels had been stolen.

The estimated value of the jewellery stolen from the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes at the weekend has been raised to more than €102 million ($136 million), French prosecutors said Monday.

Police had previously said €40 million in diamonds and other jewels had been stolen Sunday from a jewellery exhibition at the Carlton. The hotel, located on the French Riviera, was hosting a temporary exhibit from the Leviev diamond house, owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev.

A police spokesman told AP on condition of anonymity that the theft took place around noon, but he could not confirm earlier reports that the robber was a single gunman who made off with the gems in a suitcase.

“Company officials are cooperating with local authorities investigating the loss and are relieved that no one was injured in the robbery,” Leviev said in a statement.

The pieces were supposed to be on public display until the end of August.

Hotels in Cannes appear to be a favourite target this year, with two highly publicised jewellery heists taking place in May during the Cannes Film Festival. Thieves stole some €775,000 in jewels after removing a safe from the wall of a hotel room. In a later incident, thieves outsmarted 80 hotel security guards and grabbed a De Grisogono necklace that creators said is worth €2 million.

Hollywood-style caper

The luxury Carlton hotel featured in the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock film “To Catch a Thief”, which starred Cary Grant as a reformed burglar chasing a jewel thief with the help of co-star Grace Kelly.

The hotel is situated on the Promenade de la Croisette, which stretches 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles) along the seaside and provides a long stretch of road that offers a quick getaway for thieves.

Europe has been struck by several brazen jewellery thefts in recent years. Some $50 million in diamonds was stolen February 18 from a plane bound for Zurich in the diamond hub of Antwerp. Authorities have since detained dozens of people and recovered many of the stolen items.

In December 2008, armed robbers wearing women’s wigs and clothing made off with diamond rings, gem-studded bracelets and other jewellery estimated to be worth $108 million from a Harry Winston boutique in Paris.

In February of that year – and in a scene reminiscent of the movie “The Italian Job” – masked thieves drilled a tunnel into a Damiani jewelry showroom in Milan. They tied up the staff using plastic cables and tape, then made off with gold, diamonds and rubies worth some €15 million. The robbers had been digging for several weeks from a building under construction next door.

The latest heist closely follows the escape from a Swiss prison last week of a member of the loosely affiliated Pink Panther jewel thief gang. Milan Poparic escaped July 25 after accomplices rammed a gate and overpowered guards with their AK-47s. Poparic is the third member of the Pink Panthers to escape from a Swiss prison in as many months.

Police say members of the Pink Panther network are prime suspects in a series of still-open burglary cases. According to Interpol, the group has targeted luxury watch and jewellery stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States, netting more than €330 million since 1999.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-07-29

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