Jewel heist nets millions in France

About 15 armed assailants yesterday ambushed two vans carrying millions of euro worth of jewels on a French highway in the middle of the night, forcing out their drivers and speeding off into the Burgundy countryside, say police. It was the latest in a string of big jewel heists in France.

French gendarmes and other authorities were combing the forests and towns in the region southeast of Paris for the attackers. No one was injured in the attack on the A6 highway connecting Paris and Lyon, and the drivers of the two vans were left at the scene unharmed, a police official said.

The perpetrators escaped in four cars and the two vans, which police later found burned and abandoned near the site of the attack, the official said. Forensic investigators in white suits examined the area around the charred vans amid vineyards in the town of Quenne.

Around €9m worth of jewels remain missing and it’s unclear where the attackers were heading. After hours of searches failed to locate them, another police official said authorities were concentrating efforts on the investigation into the attack, which was handed to the French police agency overseeing organised crime.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to be publicly named.

No possible suspects have been named, although the case was reminiscent of heists by the Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves. The Pink Panther network has been credited with a series of thefts that Interpol says have netted more than €330m since 1999.

In 2013, south-east France was hit with a spate of jewellery thefts.


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