Cannes watch shop held up days after luxury hotel heist
Armed men have robbed a luxury watch store in Cannes, just three days after jewels worth 103 million euros (£89m) were swiped from a hotel in the Riviera resort.
The attack - the latest in a string of gem thefts in recent months – has sparked angry calls for the French government to bolster security in the glitzy port famed for its annual film festival.
At 11am on Wednesday morning, two robbers burst into the Kronometry store on the Croisette – Cannes’ legendary promenade - threatening staff with a grenade and a gun before escaping with dozens of watches.
Police said the value of the items stolen is not yet known and that the culprits may well have got away “on foot”.
The heist came as Cannes is still reeling from Sunday’s robbery at the nearby Carlton Intercontinental Hotel - a record gem theft in France and one of the biggest in recent European history.
In that robbery, a lone thief, armed with a handgun managed to slip through a half-open window into the plush establishment and help himself to 72 pieces of jewellery, including diamond-encrusted necklaces, rings and pendants.
The “apparently well-informed” individual struck as unarmed security men were transferring valuables from a safe to display chests, completing his crime in less than a minute, posing widespread questions about the level of security in the resort.
Wednesday’s robbery is the second in five months at the Kronometry store. In February, burglars took advantage of a staff lunch break to cut a disk-shaped hole into a bay window leading to the store’s internal courtyard, stealing 150 watches worth 1 million euros.
On Wednesday, Cannes’ Right-wing deputy mayor David Lisnard slammed what he called “the disengagement of the state in law enforcement in Cannes” and falling police numbers.
“(The police) clearly no longer have sufficient means and this state failing…is becoming really problematic for our town in terms of security and image, and thus jobs,” said Mr Lisnard on his Facebook page.
But speaking after the Carlton heist, top local government official, Adolphe Colrat, said: "This hold-up is not linked to a problem of public security; one shouldn’t establish a link between this spectacular robbery and a rise in delinquency in Cannes.”
The government prefect for Alpes-Maritimes département said he would push for jewellers in Cannes to create a local equivalent of the so-called “Vendôme Committee” – a club of major gem merchants set up in 1936 in Paris’ chic Place Vendome to promote their brands and thwart heist attempts.
Such a committee would “constitute a single point of contact for state administrations and the police,” he said.
Mr Colrat was due to meet management at the Carlton hotel, saying he he would quiz them on “whether sufficient preventative security is in place to exhibit or sell products of such value.”
His comment followed claims by one unionised staff member that hotel management were guilty of “carelessness” in terms of security.
The robberies of the past three days follow a string of other high-profile thefts in the port town.
At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, jewels worth almost £1 million, destined to ornament film stars on the red carpet, were stolen from a Chopard representative’s suite in a Novotel hotel. Less than a week later, a de Grisogono necklace created to mark the Swiss house’s 20th anniversary worth almost £2 million vanished during a festival party at a hotel in nearby Antibes.