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Thursday, January 19, 2017

audacious robbery at Cannes

People wear watches, some wear for time and some as a brand value ! ~ gone are the days when HMT was the best seller in India.

One of the very famous International brands is Harry Winston, founded in New York city in 1932, by a gemologist business person.  

From the acquisition of some of the world's most famous gemstones, to adorning generations of famous faces, from Hollywood legends to international Heads of State, for over eight decades, the Harry Winston name has been reported to be one among the best.   The American jewellery company, Harry Winston, Inc. produces  Swiss timepieces.  Founded in 1932, it was the first jeweller to loan diamonds to an actress for the Academy Awards, in 1943 !

Cannes is a city located on the French Riviera, a commune of France located in the Alpes-Maritimes department, and host city of the annual Cannes Film Festival, this  city is known for its association with the rich and famous, its luxury hotels and restaurants, and for several conferences.  Many would have read and followed the ‘Cannes Festival’  named until 2002 as the International Film Festival (Festival international du film) and known in English as the Cannes Film Festival,  the annual event previews new films of all genres, including documentaries, from all around the world.

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival took place  in  May 2016. Australian film director George Miller was the President of the Jury.  In 2017, the festival will celebrate its 70th anniversary edition. The city of Cannes is in news, not because of any celebrity value but for a audacious robbery.

Media reports state that an  audacious robber held up a jewellery shop in Cannes with a pistol and a grenade and escaped on foot with £13million worth of diamonds.  The man, who was in his 30s and wore sunglasses, strolled casually into the Harry Winston luxury jewellery shop on the city's famed Croisette promenade. Security camera footage is being examined in an effort to identify the robber but the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard said the robbery 'could and should have been avoided' and he called on the government to allow jewellery shops to use biometric recognition software.

France has a notoriety for big robberies.  In Dec 2008, 4 men including 3 wearing women’s clothes stole watches and pieces of jewellery worth £50million from the Cartier boutique in Cannes.  In Feb 2010, a thief, targetted and took away a handbag with £4million worth of jewels from Christina Chernovetska, the daughter of the Mayor of Kiev, as she drove into Paris from Charles De Gaulle airport in a chauffeur-driven car. 

Reporting of the incident, the regional prosecutor, Alain Guimbard, said the man claimed to be looking on behalf of a wealthy sponsor: 'He asked to see diamond ornaments on behalf of a sponsor. The saleswoman was suspicious and gave him a catalogue.' He then pulled out a 7.65-calibre automatic pistol and a grenade, forced security guards to lie on the floor and ordered the two saleswomen to open the display cases. It is not clear if the grenade was real but the staff clearly were not taking any chances.

Nobody was injured in the heist and the robber was in and out of the shop within eight minutes. Harry Winston is a New York-based jeweller that popular with billionaires and actresses who are often seen wearing its gems on the red carpet at the Oscars.  It is not the first time the Croisette has been targeted.

France is gaining an unwelcome reputation as an easy target for jewel thieves. In October last year £8.5million worth of jewellery belonging to Kim Kardashian was stolen from her at an apartment in Paris. Several men were arrested earlier this month but they have not been charged and experts say her jewels have long ago been sold on to a fence and recycled.

For some, Crime pays but for some, it is painful memory.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th Jan 2017.

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