With just one week until the famous film festival kicks off, Cannes was once again been hit by what has become an almost annual crime: a high-end jewellery heist. In a sting which is estimated to have taken no longer than 10 minutes, four armed men seized at least €1 million worth of jewels from a Cartier store that has become one of the city’s prime targets for thieves. Taking place on May 5 at 11am in full view of a busy thoroughfare and the most serious of 18 robberies reported on the Croisette this year alone, it is a less than ideal way to begin next week’s festivities making one of this year's yachts at Cannes the safest place to be.
The biggest and best known of all Cannes jewellery heists was 2013’s attack on the luxurious Carlton hotel. Purported to be the work of the infamous Pink Panther gang, a single armed robber stole gemstones and watches totalling a value of $136 million from a poorly guarded hotel safe on 28 July. The heist is estimated to be a contender for the biggest jewellery theft of all time and caused a huge media flurry, not least because the Carlton hotel is intriguingly also where Hitchcock’s 1955 film To Catch a Thief was set. A $1.3 million reward was offered to anyone with information leading the recovery of the jewels but to no avail.
In what, perhaps, should have been a lesson to the Carlton hotel, over $3 million worth of jewels were stolen from two separate hotels during the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013. The first robbery saw an entire safe filled with jewels destined to be worn by numerous Hollywood stars ripped from the wall of a Chopard employee’s Novotel hotel room while she was at dinner. There was speculation at the time about the suspicious lack of security surrounding these jewels, a criticism which can’t be raised against the theft of a $2 million De Grisogono necklace just days later. Surrounded by 80 bodyguards, local police and hotel security, staff were mystified by the disappearance of the necklace, which is believed to have been taken during a star-studded party at the Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc.
The recent heist is not the first time Cartier’s Cannes store has suffered at the hands of burglars. The boutique has been robbed several times in recent memory, most notably in 2009 when armed members of the Pink Panther gang escaped with £15 million worth of jewellery from glass display cabinets. This heist sparked speculation that the gang, which is believed to be made up of over 200 Yugoslavian criminals, were now working full time in the Cannes area, making them prime suspects in every robbery since.
The film festival proves to be both a blessing and a curse to many of Cannes’ boutiques and hotels, all of which run the risk of becoming repeat burglary targets. 2013 was not the first time the Carlton had been attacked, with three armed and masked men making off with over $60 million dollars worth of diamonds, cash and other valuables during a brazen robbery in August 1994. Police later discovered that the men’s guns were, in fact, loaded with blanks but neither the jewels nor the criminals were ever found.