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Friday, December 05, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Stolen Diamonds are Forever, Not Just for Christmas !!

£70m jewels stolen from top Paris jeweller's

By Geoff Meade, PA
Friday, 5 December 2008

French police were today hunting for four thieves who carried out the biggest-ever jewellery raid in Paris - two of them dressed as women.

"They probably aren't still dressed as women," said one police source, as one of the most prestigious jewellery shops in the French capital was counting the cost of the audacious robbery which netted the gang almost £70 million in rings, necklaces and other expensive gems.

The four stormed into Harry Winston's, purveyor of jewellery to the stars and nobility, yesterday afternoon - able to identify staff by their names and even aware where the finest items, not on display, were stored.

The shop is in the so-called "golden triangle" of Paris shopping streets - the city's equivalent of London's Bond Street area.

About 15 browsing customers and the staff were bundled into a corner of the shop while the gang efficiently swept display jewellery into sacks. They virtually emptied the shop.

Police said they carried guns, but did not fire them. And an alarm system said to be linked to a central security system in Switzerland did not give sufficient advance warning for police to intercept the gang.

A special French police squad tackling organised crime - the Brigade de Repression du Banditisme (BRB) - predicted that the gems would be melted down and sold on in Eastern European countries, seen as the ripest for "fencing" stolen goods.

There was speculation that the raid might even have been carried out on the orders of East European crime syndicates.

The same branch of Harry Winston's was last targeted 14 months ago, in October last year. On that occasion, jewellery worth nearly £8 million was taken. The store offered a reward of more than £400,000 but the haul was never recovered and the thieves never caught.

Art Hostage comments:

News coming in from Tel Aviv about this robbery.

Apparently during the summer potential customers viewed some diamond pieces at this store and got to know the names of staff who served them, they also viewed from where staff retrieved some highly value pieces.

However, this customer did not buy anything and was really only checking out the premises and gaining intelligence about the workers.

More news coming in from Turkey revealing this raid was conducted by locals who could
originally hail from Albania or Turkey.

Now the biggest and best diamonds are not going to Eastern Europe but to Israel via Antwerp.

Funny enough, for the meantime some of this haul is being deposited in banks in Paris.

A case of moving the haul just a few blocks.

Keep you posted as more comes in.

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