Value of jewelry taken in Cannes heist raised to $136 million

July 29, 2013 at 9:02 PM
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CANNES, France, July 29 (UPI) -- The value of the diamond jewels stolen from a luxury hotel in Cannes was raised to $136 million, a record heist for France, a local prosecutor said Monday.

The theft of 34 pieces was carried out by a lone gunman Sunday at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel on the French Riviera.

Philippe Vique, deputy prosecutor of the nearby town Grasse, which has authority over Cannes, said the theft surpasses the previous French record of about $106 million in a 2008 holdup in Paris, The Wall Street Journal reported. This past weekend's heist had previously been estimated at $53 million.

The gems taken from the Cannes luxury hotel were part of an exhibition of works from the Leviev diamond house, owned by Russian-born Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev. The Journal said a Leviev employee based in London said the company was working with police and insurance companies but declined to confirm the value of the pilfered jewelry.

The latest theft follows a $1.4 million jewelry heist from a hotel safe during the Cannes film festival in May and the theft of a $1.9 million necklace in the nearby city of Antibes also in May, the Journal noted.

Vique said differences in the ways the thefts were carried out seemed to indicate different parties were responsible.

He also said there was no evidence to link the Sunday robbery to the Pink Panthers gang of jewelry thieves. A member of the gang, Milan Poparic, 34, of Bosnia, escaped from a Swiss prison last week, the newspaper said.

Another member of the gang escaped prison in recent months, as well.

The Journal said a police officer familiar with the latest case said investigators were considering the possibility it was an inside job or that there was a security systems failure.

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