DAYLIGHT ROBBERY: French police are hunting for two suspects following a dramatic heist at a Cartier jewelry store on Monte Carlo’s Casino Square on Saturday afternoon.
According to a statement from the Monaco prosecutor’s office, three masked men carrying at least one firearm robbed the store at gunpoint at 3:40 p.m. They allegedly made off with a haul of jewelry, with the details on the items and their value yet to be confirmed. One of the suspects was arrested, and a weapon recovered, but the two others managed to escape. No others were harmed in the incident, with no hostages taken.
Shoppers took refuge in stores and cafés during the dramatic intervention after police cordoned off the area around the square in the center of the Mediterranean principality, according to local reports.
Cartier wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The news is bound to make Cannes officials and organizers of the upcoming Cannes Film Festival a little jittery, given the string of jewelry robberies to hit the Riviera city in recent years. Nicole Kidman, Isabelle Huppert, and Julianne Moore are among actresses expected to attend the red-carpet event, which will take place from May 17 to 28.
Just two months ago, an armed robber reportedly escaped on foot with some 15 million euros worth of diamonds, or $16.2 million, following a holdup in a jewelry store on the city’s Croisette waterfront promenade.
Among other recent high-profile cases to hit Cannes was the theft by a lone burglar of diamond jewelry worth an estimated $136 million destined for a temporary exhibit by jeweler Leviev at the Carlton hotel in 2013, marking the biggest jewel heist on record in France at the time. The French Riviera palace was one of the backdrops to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 classic “To Catch a Thief,” which stars Cary Grant as a former jewel thief.
In two separate cases during the Cannes Film Festival in the same year, jewel thieves made off with $1 million worth of gems from the hotel room of an employee of Swiss jewelry and watch firm Chopard, while a De Grisogono necklace valued at 2 million euros, or $2.8 million, disappeared during a star-studded party in Cap d’Antibes.
In 2009, a Cartier jewelry store in Cannes was robbed by three armed men who fled with a haul estimated at up to 15 million euros, or $16.2 million. The last big wave of robberies in Monaco, meanwhile, dates back to the 2000s, when a Serbian gang, known to authorities as the Pink Panthers, carried out more than 100 heists, many of them on the French Riviera.