PARIS — Two men held up the De Beers boutique in Printemps department store here and made off with jewelry worth between 1 million euros and 3 million euros, or $2.7 million and $4 million at current exchange, in the early evening hours of Tuesday, confirmed a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office in Paris.
Armed with handguns and equipped with bullet-proof vests, the robbers entered the South African diamond dealer’s stand, located on the first floor of the department store, at around 6:45 p.m. They did not fire their weapons, and no one was harmed, she said.
According to French media reports the thieves left shortly after and nearly unnoticed through the personnel exit at the back of the store, which could suggest they were familiar with the premises.
While a spokeswoman for Printemps declined to comment, the district attorney’s office confirmed the men were unmasked and only disguised in wigs. Whether their identities could be deduced from the department store’s surveillance system the spokeswoman for the district attorney would not tell, stating the “investigation is still ongoing.”
The De Beers heist in Paris comes less than 24 hours after a spectacular hit and run at the airport in Brussels, where a gang of heavily armed men disguised as policemen made off with a haul of rough diamonds estimated to be worth 37 million euros, or $49.4 million, en route from Antwerp to Zurich. The raid, which is said to have lasted only three minutes, is one of the biggest diamond heists ever reported.In France, the number of jewelry robberies jumped 61 percent between 2009 and 2011, according to a study published earlier this month by the French National Institute for Advanced Studies in Security and Justice.