Sat, Apr 18, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Taiwanese loses millions in jewels to thieves in France

SMASH-AND-GRAB:The woman whose handbag was holding the jewels said that they were to be presented at the Paris Museum of Modern Art

AFP, PARIS

French police on Thursday were hunting a trio of thieves who made off with a handbag containing 5 million euros (US$5.4 million) worth of Chanel jewels in a smash-and-grab on the highway between Paris and Charles de Gaulle Airport.

A Taiwanese art collector was traveling in a taxi on Wednesday afternoon through a long tunnel notorious for robbery attacks on tourists stuck in traffic when the thieves smashed a car window and snatched her handbag.

It was unclear whether the perpetrators were just petty crooks who hit the jackpot or knew in advance that the woman’s handbag was filled with valuable jewelry, such as a ring worth 1.7 million euros.

Police are not ruling out any options as they probe the theft of the gems, which the woman said were to be presented at the Paris Museum of Modern Art, a source close to the investigation said.

However, the museum later denied they were to be given the jewels.

The unique and numbered items will be very difficult to peddle without a specialized network, police said.

“Either it was an order, or they are in the shit,” a source with a specialized police unit said.

The 1.3km Landy tunnel is taken by most people arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport and heading into Paris and is the ideal spot for smash-and-grabs.

“It is often local delinquency. They aren’t afraid of anything, know the area and escape through emergency exits,” the source said.

A driver distracted and talking on his cellphone, a handbag left on a passenger seat or luxury cars carrying tourists with possibly wads of cash on them are all easy targets.

In February 2010, Christina Chernovetska, daughter of the then mayor of Kiev, was the victim of a similar robbery when a bag she said contained jewels worth 4.5 million euros was stolen from her.

Saudi prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, the multimillionaire son of the late King Fahd, fell victim to a spectacular armed raid on his convoy in Paris in August last year, in which 250,000 euros and diplomatic papers were stolen.

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