Robbers steal millions in jewels from Ritz hotel in Paris

Peter Castro
January 14, 2018

Police are still searching for the two missing suspects.

"We heard a loud noise and lots of racket in the street", one hotel employee told the AFP news agency.

Some guests took refuge in the basement while the attackers, who were wearing ski masks and sports clothes, carried out the dramatic robbery.

'There were initial fears that a terrorist attack was going on, but it soon became clear that it was a robbery.

The driver, Henri Paul, was the hotel's deputy head of security.

A judicial source put the value of the jewels seized at "more than four million euros" ($4.75 million).

Interior Minister Gérard Collomb also offered praise, saying they were "a credit to our police".

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Place Vendome, with its opulent window displays of jewelers and high-end watchmakers, has been the scene of several audacious daytime raids.

Place Vendome is home to prestigious jewellery shops, famous haute couture shops and splendid luxury hotels. France has found itself repeatedly in the headlines for high-profile robberies, particularly in Paris and on the Cote d'Azur.

A police official said Thursday that one perpetrator dropped a bag with jewels and hatchets when his motorcycle hit a pedestrian during his escape.

It remains the only piece to be recovered from the heist.

The hotel, now owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohammed al-Fayed, first opened in 1898 and was the first Paris hotel to boast electricity on all floors and bathrooms that were inside rooms.

Coco Chanel lived there for more than 30 years while Marcel Proust, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and King Edward VII were regulars.

The Ritz-Carlton is known as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world and was the place where Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed dined on 31 August 1997, shortly before they died in a auto crash.

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