French police have recovered all jewels worth over $4 million stolen from a store in the Ritz hotel (pictured) in central Paris on Wednesday evening, a police source told AFP on Thursday as officers continued the hunt for two thieves still at large.
A part of the loot was found scattered about during the arrest of three of the five-member gang immediately after the heist, police said.
The rest of the jewels and watches were found in a bag dropped by one of the two suspects who sped away.
The five robbers armed with two handguns and axes smashed open the display windows of a ground floor jewellery store of Ritz around 6pm.
A police officer on patrol interrupted the heist and three of the robbers were captured at the crime scene as they tried to flee.
No shots were fired and no one was injured during the dramatic heist.
Several top brands display their jewels in the street-front windows of Ritz. A shopping area near its rear entrance hosts shops selling jewellery, watches and clothing. A store in the rear seems to have been targeted by the robbers. A hotel employee said he heard someone kick-starting a scooter at the rear around the time the robbers fled.
“We heard a loud noise and lots of racket in the street,” another employee told AFP. “Passers-by took refuge in the hotel. We didn’t know what was going on until someone told us there had been a robbery.”
Many police cars were seen parked outside Ritz. The city’s police commissioner tweeted thanking officers for their quick and massive response which led to three arrests.
Interior Minister Gérard Collomb hailed them, saying they were “a credit to our police”.
Several armed heists targeting jewellery stores had taken place near Place Vendome square where Ritz is located.
In March 2016, two robbers armed with a gun and grenade stole jewels worth around $6 million from fashion brand Chopard. In October 2016, five robbers targeted US reality television star Kim Kardashian. Holding her at gunpoint, they took away several pieces of gold and diamond jewellery as well as a ring totally worth around $9 million.