A masked man broke into a diamond show in Cannes yesterday and snatched $136 million in jewels. Prosecutors in the French Riviera town said he snuck into the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel through French doors brandishing a handgun. He held up participants, including three private security guards and a handful of personnel. It all happened in the space of about a minute and the man fled on foot. Meanwhile in Zurich, Swiss authorities are on the hunt for a jewel thief who broke out of prison last Thursday night. In a dramatic scene at the Orbe penitentiary, a van rammed the entrance of prison and gunman opened fire with weapons. During the melee, 34-year-old Milan Poparic, escaped. Poparic is a member of the so-called Pink Panthers gang of jewelry thieves. He was serving a seven-year sentence for robbing a jewelry store in 2008.
It’s the second prison break of a Pink Panther member in last three months. Is it all connected? How did the lone thief make off with the jewels so readily? How easy or difficult is it to unload stolen gemstones?
Jonathan Sazonoff, U.S. Editor, Museum Security Network and an expert on high-value crime