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By
AFP
Published
Dec 8, 2008
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Million-dollar reward offered in record Paris jewel heist

By
AFP
Published
Dec 8, 2008

PARIS, Dec 8, 2008 (AFP) - A record million-dollar (700,000 euro) reward has been offered for helping to find the jewels stolen in a record heist at Harry Winston jewelers in Paris, insurer Lloyd's of London announced Monday.


Photo : AFP

The maximum reward will go to "the first person who can provide information leading to the recovery" of the 85 million euros' worth of jewels taken from the shop on Thursday, said loss adjustors S.W. Associates in Paris, who are working for Lloyd's.

French police face a long, hard job tracking those behind the heist, the biggest theft ever in any category in France.

Sources close to the probe said at the weekend that witnesses could not even say in which direction the robbers escaped after the raid in which they stole diamonds and other valuables in just 15 minutes.

A gang of four thieves -- two of them disguised as women -- stole nearly all the jewels on display at the Harry Winston boutique just off the Champs-Elysees avenue, which attracts a wealthy international clientele.

Police said they were dealing with "major pros" who had meticulously planned their crime and knew the boutique's lay-out well, suggesting it may have been an inside job.

Believing they had staged a lengthy reconnaissance of the premises before the raid, police were Saturday scrutinising film from security cameras within the shop and on the fashionable Avenue Montaigne outside.

But the sources said it would be difficult to identify anyone because of the disguises they wore.

Although the robbers spoke French it was with east European accents, they added, though they said the men could have been working for anyone, including French gang bosses.

Investigators have pointed out that the loot could be sold more easily in eastern Europe, describing the market there as a "new El Dorado for traffickers" trying to get rid of high-end stolen goods.

Investigators were also re-examining the unsolved raid on the same shop in October last year in which jewels worth nearly 20 million euros were taken, to see if there were any possible links.

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