5 Piaget jewellery heist suspects arrested in France

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PARIS – French police have arrested five people, including a veteran jewel thief, in connection with an armed heist in broad daylight at a Paris store of luxury brand Piaget, a source close to the case said on Wednesday.

In the Aug 1 robbery, the gang made off with €10 million (S$14.5 million) to €15 million worth of jewellery and watches, according to police estimates.

Prosecutors said at the time that three people were directly involved in the early afternoon heist, two men dressed in suits and a woman wearing a dress. At least one of them was armed.

Nobody was hurt during the heist.

The store is located on the Rue de la Paix in the heart of the French capital, situated near the prestigious Place Vendome and home to several high-end jewellery stores.

Police arrested five suspects on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Among them was 66-year-old Aissa Bendjaber, sentenced earlier in September to 12 years in prison for a 2016 robbery at another famous luxury goods house, Chopard. On conditional release at the time of the verdict, he had failed to show up in court.

Bendjaber, nicknamed the “The Borsalino man” because he often wears a hat, is suspected of having participated in several heists totalling millions of euros worth of stolen goods.

The area around Place Vendome in central Paris is frequently targeted in robberies.

In April, three people on motorbikes robbed the Bulgari store in the neighbourhood, making off with several million euros worth of jewellery.

Piaget, founded in Switzerland, makes high-end jewellery and luxury watches with price tags that can reach several tens of thousands of euros.

It is a subsidiary of the Richemont group, which also owns several other luxury goods companies including Cartier, Baume and Mercier, Chloe, and Van Cleef and Arpels. AFP

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