Last month a fed-up jeweler in Nice, on the Cote d'Azur, shot and killed an armed robber who tried to break into his jewelry shop. This jeweler was arrested and held for questioning amid calls from fellow jewelers and the city’s mayor for him to be released. He'd fired at least three shots at two thieves as they attempted to make their getaway from the city-centre store by scooter.
One of the men fell off the bike in an adjacent street and was pronounced dead later in the morning. Police said a considerable amount of jewelry was found on the dead man, while the other perpetrator escaped without capture.
This family’s shop, the owner's son Yann said, had been broken into last year and robbed of 34,000 euros worth of watches and gold jewelry. Yann, who was working with his father when the robbers came into the store at 9am, said “We are totally fed up. Every day when we open up we have butterflies in our stomachs.”
This fear was especially acute, he added, since two years ago in nearby Cannes a jeweler was shot dead by armed thieves. “There isn’t a day when a jewelry shop in France does not fall victim to an armed robbery,” he said.
Even the right-wing mayor of Nice called on the police to release the jeweler from custody. In May during the Cannes Film festival a series of bold armed robberies on the Riviera, netted a haul of 103 million euros worth of jewels from a hotel.
While film stars might not merit our sympathy, the shopkeepers might. At least there is progress on investigations into the Pink Panther jewel thief gang.
Police stormed a villa in southeast France and arrested a member of the notorious Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves who had escaped from a Swiss prison earlier this year. During a dawn sweep armed police detained Zoran Tomovic, 47, as he tried to flee through a window in the home of an acquaintance in a small town in Provence. But the house was surrounded.
Just last month, a lone gunman walked into a diamond jewelry show at a hotel in Cannes and made off with a breathtaking $136 million worth of valuables — the biggest jewelry heist in years, maybe ever. Police say there was no immediate evidence that pointed to any link between the Pink Panthers and Tomovic with those robberies. They feel he appeared to be more concerned with staying out of sight than with plotting a new heist. And no, he doesn't wear a trench coat and have a mustache like the man above.