Authorities said an armed man made off with $53 million worth of jewels from the Carlton Hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes on Sunday
in what could be the second largest heist in the history of France.
The armed man walked into a jewelry exhibition in the Carlton lobby around midday, stuffed a small suitcase with jewels, and took off, evading security initially on foot, reported The Independent
. No violence was used and it was unclear how many pieces were stolen.
The name of the jewels' owner has not been released, according to BBC News
. Moscow-based Leviev diamond house, owned by the Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, organized the exhibition, reported The Independent.
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"A full and urgent operation is under way to catch the culprit and recover these jewels," a Cannes police spokesman told BBC News. "Thieves see Cannes as rich pickings."
The BBC said the theft was the largest in a run of high-profile crimes in Cannes, best known for the annual Cannes Film Festival. In fact, the festival suffered two jewelry thefts in May.
A $2.5 million necklace by Swiss jeweler De Grisogono went missing after a celebrity party in the resort town of Cap d'Antibes. Some $1 million in jewels were taken from a hotel room of an employee of exclusive Swiss jewelers Chopard the week before, reported the BBC.
The Carlton Hotel is where Alfred Hitchcock filmed "To Catch A Thief," a 1955 film about a jewel thief operating in the French Riviera.
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The Carlton Hotel is situated on the exclusive Promenade de la Croisette that stretches nearly two miles along the French Riviera. It is a hub for the rich and famous annually, also making it attractive for potential thieves, said The Independent.
Sunday's theft placed focus on a rash of diamond raids throughout Europe this year, possibly sparked by worldwide rising diamond prices. CNN reported that more than 30 people were arrested in May for a multi-million dollar February heist of rough and polished diamonds at Brussels Airport and some of the stolen diamonds have been recovered.
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