Thieves score $5.4 mln in jewels in Paris smash-and-grab

It was unclear whether the perpetrators were just petty crooks who hit the jackpot

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French police were on Thursday hunting a trio of thieves who made off with a handbag containing 5.4 million dollars worth of Chanel jewels in a smash-and-grab on the highway between Paris and Charles De Gaulle airport.

A Taiwanese art collector was travelling in a taxi Wednesday afternoon through a long tunnel notorious for robbery attacks on tourists stuck in traffic, when the thieves smashed the 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 jewellery, such as a ring worth $1.8 million.

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

“Either it was an order or they are in the s**t,” a source with a specialised police unit said ironically.

Difficult to peddle

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

The 1.3km long Landy tunnel is taken by most people arriving at the 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,” said the source.

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, the daughter of the then mayor of Kiev, was the victim of a similar robbery when a bag she said contained jewels worth $4.8 mln was stolen from her.

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