Thieves make off with $1 million in jewels from hotel near Cannes Film Festival

Thieves stole around $1 million worth of jewelry from a hotel near the Cannes Film Festival sometime early Friday morning, the Associated Press reports. The jewels were in a safe that the thieves ripped out of a wall of a hotel room.

According to the BBC, an employee of Chopard, the Swiss jeweler, was staying in the room and the jewels were meant to be loaned to celebrities to wear at the French Riviera’s renowned festival.

Hours earlier, the festival had screened a film called “The Bling Ring,” directed by Sofia Coppola and featuring Emma Watson, based on the true story of a group of high schoolers in Los Angeles. The film portrays students who “after seeing online when certain stars are expected at a premiere or other event, take the opportunity to steal designer bags, shoes and clothes from their homes, lingering to pretend to live in celebrity opulence,” according to the AP.

Jewel thieves have long troubled the region, which is frequented by wealthy tourists. This past holiday season, law enforcement agencies placed additional police on patrol and installed surveillance cameras, reported The Riviera Times, a local English-language newspaper:

As a hub for luxury tourism, the Riviera always attracts jewellery thieves and bank robbers. But this Christmas, the risk is even higher. "The price of gold has risen, we are in financial difficulty, delinquance [sic] persists – we have all the ingredients for a highly tense Christmas!" said colonel Gael Marchand, head of the A.M. gendarmerie, in a report by Nice Matin.

Another large heist in Cannes occurred in 2009, although it was not during the film festival. A man walked into a Cartier jewelry store wearing a Hawaiian shirt and produced a gun, ordering everyone inside to the floor. Two accomplices followed and scooped up around $21 million worth of jewels, according to New York.

Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.

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Max Fisher · May 17, 2013