Cannes hit by €17.5m jewel heist ahead of film fest

French authorities have boosted security in the town ahead of the glittering festival which sees the population of the small town triple to 210,000 people.

CANNES, FRANCE // Just days before the start of the star-studded Cannes film festival, four robbers looted €17.5 million (Dh72.8m) in jewellery and watches from a boutique in the French resort town, sources said on Thursday.

The Riviera town that hosts the red carpet extravaganza has become a key target for thieves carrying out film-worthy heists at a time of year when top jewellers have their best pieces in stock to adorn the world’s hottest celebrities.

The threat of such thefts and jitters four months after attacks by extremists in Paris that killed 17 people have led authorities to boost security for the glittering festival which sees the population of the small town triple to 210,000 people.

The latest robbery took place on Tuesday at the Cartier boutique on the beachfront promenade known as the Croisette.

One of the robbers wore an old-man mask and carried a pistol as he barged into the store, letting in two accomplices with scarves around their faces, while a fourth man stood guard outside, said sources close to the investigation.

Two employees and a shopper were in the store at the time.

The robbers stuffed the jewellery and watches into a leather satchel and jewellery bag. In their rush to escape, a number of expensive watches fell to the pavement and were recovered by the store.

It was not known whether the stolen items were brought in especially for the film festival.

An additional 500 officers are being sent to Cannes to secure this year’s festival. Most of them will be patrolling in civilian clothes to remain discreet.

* Agence France-Presse

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