Approximately $136 million in diamonds stolen from Cannes hotel

July 30th, 2013 by Noam Flint

(UDPATE – First pictures of the stolen jewelry can be seen here)

Diamonds are not only beautiful, they’re expensive, making them an optimal target for thieves trying to make a ton of cash fast. This is exactly what happened at a chic Cannes hotel July 28. According to The Associated Press, an armed robber, wearing a scarf to mask his face, entered the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel and stole millions of dollars in gemstones as jewelers were setting up an annual diamond show.

Diamond ThiefApproximately $136 million in diamonds stolen from Cannes hotel

A simple, yet cunning plan

It may seem hard to believe that one masked robber was able infiltrate such an elite hotel, but it was his speed that helped the plan succeed. Philippe Vique, an assistant prosecutor in the town of Grasse, believes the thief broke in to the hotel through its French doors, which led right out to the Croisette promenade where the diamond show organizers and merchants were setting up.

From this point, the armed robber was able to hold up the organizers while picking up a bag with a briefcase and a small box. According to Vique, the entire robbery took about a minute to complete.

“The thief, in his mid-40s, entered the room of the exhibition, pulled a Colt .45 out at the employees, stuffed a bag with gems and walked out of the hotel,” a Cannes police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told ABC News. “We do not know yet if the thief had accomplices, but we are investigating everything. It’s a full scale investigation.”

What the thief got away with

The Associated Press reports the multiple bags the robber left with contained a slew of diamond rings, earrings and pendants – a reported $136 million getaway. These weren’t just any diamonds either, as they were a part of the Leviev diamond house. This year’s diamond show was centered around the white and natural colored diamonds owned by Lev Leviev, an Israeli billionaire, who was loaning his diamonds for the display through August.

A spokesperson with the diamond house said in a statement that the company was cooperating with the authorities, but would not comment on if any of the Leviev diamonds were stolen.

Given what the robber said, authorities are under the impression that he is a Frenchman, since he spoke perfect French. Some are speculating that the heist could have been conducted by an elite group of international jewel thieves dubbed the Pink Panthers, but as of now, police don’t believe the job was a group effort.