Much as we all know it’s wrong, there is something undeniably appealing about the idea of a jewel heist (as long as no one gets hurt). Who could not love those suave, well educated, impeccably dressed continentals with access to the criminal underground and a bevy of infiltration devices that the NSA would envy? Maybe I’ve seen too many movies….
Spanish Authorities announced the arrest of several skilled jewel thieves in a $31 Million Exotic Watch heist. Among the nearly 1,700 stolen watches there appear to have been several $300K-$400K custom platinum pieces with masterwork Swiss movements.
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The announcement of this arrest seems to be just the latest development in what can only be described as a tsunami of European jewel heists targeting super-high end baubles. While premium watches are often the bounty, tens of millions of dollars in fine designer jewelry has also been swiped. See here http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21582575-jewellery-thefts-are-much-more-spectacular-another-french-exception
Many of the heists have occurred along the picturesque French Riviera during high profile events when the rich and famous (and the jeweler’s who adorn them) have their best pieces on display. From Million Dollar Flawless diamonds to Chopard’s keystone pieces, many of them are still unaccounted for to this day.
It seems that these guys are not all “suave” cat burglars. While some of the the thefts had all the makings of a “Pink Panther’ movie, the bulk are more accurately described as “smash and grabs”. This tried and true method for making someone else’s belongings your own might lack the cache of a masterfully executed houdini-worthy disappearing act, but the smash grab is deadly effective. Break Barrier – Take Stuff – Run Like Hell!
It’s easy to blame the downturn in the economy for the seeming rise in high profile jewel thefts, but there are no doubt other causes including unpreparedness, over-reliance on insurance and a lack of armed patrol officers in many of the theft ridden jurisdictions. We’ll be following this unfortunate trend in the coming months.