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Suspect in Cannes jewelry heist makes off with $148 million

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Jewels worth $148 million were seized by an armed man in a brazen heist in a French Riviera luxury hotel. Under the noses of the hotel's security staff, the man on Sunday walked into the Carlton in the posh resort of Cannes. It's been declared one of the world's most brazen jewelry thefts.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Ironically, the Carlton is popular with movie stars and was once the location of Alfred Hitchcock's thriller "To Catch a Thief."

Armed with a semi-automatic pistol, the suspect covered his head with a cloth and then proceeded to steal items that were part of an exhibition by a group owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev. The man then escaped with a briefcase full of jewels and watches incrusted in diamonds.

Authorities had initially estimated the heist was worth 40 million euros, but after an inventory of the exhibition, prosecutors in Grasse near Cannes have concluded that it is valued at a much higher 103 million euros.

The incident is being equated with the world's largest ever haul of jewelry, valued at around 100 million euros, that took place in Belgium in 2003. Robbers in that caper emptied more than 120 out of 160 safety deposit boxes inside the heavily fortified "Diamond Center" in the heart of Antwerp's diamond district.

The incident was by far France's biggest diamond heist, eclipsing a 2008 incident when three men stole almost every piece on display at a jewelry exhibition in Paris, a theft valued at 85 million euros.

"It all happened very quickly and without any violence", the prosecutor's office said about the robbery.

World renowned for its film festival, Cannes has recently fallen prey to thieves several times, notably during this year's festival, which attracts a glittering array of celebrities from the movie world.

The theft has caused anger among employees and unions, who denounced lax security at the Carlton. The exhibition had been held in a wing of the hotel with direct access to the street and police said they had not been alerted that it was taking place.

While not a legal requirement, alerting the police would ordinarily be standard procedure for luxury hotels such as the Carlton.

The CGT union said that the Carlton had already been the victim of a jewelry heist in 1994, when a security guard was seriously wounded by a bullet.

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