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France

Axe-wielding gang rob luxury Parisian jeweller

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-05

A group of men used axes and sledgehammers to smash open display cabinets in a high-end watch store in central Paris on Friday, before setting off smoke grenades and escaping on foot.

Around a dozen men wielding axes and sledgehammers on Friday burst into a luxury watch store in central Paris in broad daylight and made off with a haul worth hundreds of thousands of euros.

Shortly before lunch, two well-dressed men entered the Vacheron Constantin store near the iconic Place Vendome, where several luxury jewellers are located, and ushered in a third armed man.

Six others, wearing hoods and armed with sledgehammers and axes, then followed, police reported.

They smashed the shop windows and left with 20 high-value watches, items worth upwards of 100,000 euros each.

Smoke grenades

Around six accomplices outside the showroom, which is ironically just metres away from France's justice ministry, used smoke grenades to help the thieves to make their escape, police said.

They then fled on foot.

Two of the men, whom police said were from eastern Europe, were arrested in the area immediately after the raid, and two sledgehammers and an axe were found nearby.

France has been hit by a series of high-profile jewellery heists this year, including several in the up-market Riviera town of Cannes.

The most spectacular of these was at the seaside resort’s Carlton Hotel, where thieves made off with jewels worth more than 100 million euros in a raid in late July, according to French prosecutors.

And early last month, four men rammed their car into an upmarket jewellery store which was also near Place Vendome in Paris, making off with a two-million-euro haul.

The spate of robberies has spawned an unprecedented phenomenon: a Facebook page supporting a French jeweller who shot dead a teenage robber in September. The page has so far drawn 1.6 million "likes."

Shop owner Stephan Turk's action has divided France, with supporters arguing for the right to defend ones property amid a general climate of insecurity, while critics condemn the use of violence and vigilantism.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-10-04

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