Sunday, 07 Dec, 2008 Current Events

Ladies' Wear Helped Robbers to Steal Precious Jewellery


One of the greatest hold-ups took place in Paris. Four robbers using ladies' wear and acting like two couples stole jewellery worth £70 million from the fashionable Harry Winston boutique.

Holding guns, the thieves pushed customers into corners and ordered scared members of staff to collect all precious stones, rings, necklaces and other items of jewellery in sacks. They also took the contents of a secret vault which treasured gems of the highest value.

As police reported, the robbery which occurred on the exclusive Avenue Montaigne had been thoroughly planned. The gangsters turned out to be "terrifyingly efficient" as they gathered complete information about the store including names of its employees.

It should be mentioned that the raiders didn't take any shots, however several employees were struck with gun butts. As it was reported, the thieves threatened to fire a grenade before they escaped with their multimillion trophy.

The name of Harry Winston is well-known among celebrities. Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry and Jackie Kennedy were his frequent visitors. The Shah of Iran also purchased items which present honor and prestige of the company. Winston was the one who polished one of the world's largest diamonds which was bought by Richard Burton for his wife in 1969.

The store became international renown after Marilyn Monroe sang her famous hit "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend" in 1953.

"Talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me all about it!" sang Monroe.

The police arrived to the place of heist with a delay as the alarm system was controlled by a security service located in Switzerland.

It's worth mentioning that it was the greatest gem hold-up in the history of France as its losses were three times higher than in case of a raid on a bank in Nice which obtained "theft of the century" title in 1992. Yet the absolute record belongs to a robbery in Belgium when raiders stole cash and diamonds from 120 safe-deposits totaling 90 million pounds.

According to evidences provided by witnesses, the gangsters spoke French and another language which could be Serbo-Croatian or one of Russian dialects as police supposed.

"The problem we have with jewels is that they are very easy to smuggle across mainland Europe,"said an official representative.

"It is possible that the gang involved in this raid had eastern European connections. Eastern Europe is an Eldorado for jewellery thieves. They were clearly professional criminals and knew exactly what they were doing,"he added.

As it turned out, the robbery occurred after three Serbs were sentenced by a French court to 6-15 years in jail for a series of gem robberies. It is considered that they belong to Pink Panther gang which became famous for a series of hold-ups all over the world with the total profit of 100 million pounds.

According to information provided by Telegraph Harry Winston's boutique was robbed a year ago, when the theft made £ 7 million. A reward of 350,000 pounds was offered, but the robbers were never found.

As Police reported, the jewellery, after being dismantled, would probably be sold on underground markets in eastern Europe. However, its selling price will be considerable lower than its actual market value.

Posted by sharaeff

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