Jun 22, 2009
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Paris police arrest 25 in Harry Winston jewel heist probe

Jun 22, 2009

PARIS, June 22, 2009 (AFP) - French police probing a record heist at Harry Winston jewelers in Paris have arrested 25 people and recovered some of the 85 million euros worth of precious stones, a police source said Monday 22 June.

Harry Winston boutique on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris - Photo : Patrick Kovarik/AFP

The arrests were made Sunday 21 June and Monday 22 June in the Paris region after police learned that a suspected fence who had come to France from abroad was about to try to sell the stolen jewels, the source said.

Police sources said the suspects, who included two women, were aged 22 to 67. Two caches stuffed with bank notes were discovered during the operation, one containing a million euros and the other 250,000 euros.

A record million-dollar (700,000-euro) reward had been offered for helping to trace the jewels stolen in the heist at the chic jewelers in December, the biggest theft ever in any category in France.

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 at the time 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.

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

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

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