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Paris gunman takes $22m in jewellery

Published: 7:34AM Sunday May 31, 2009 Source: Reuters

A lone gunman has robbed a chic Paris jewellery store, walking out of the Chopard shop on Place Vendome with up to 10 million euros ($22.06 million) of goods, police say.

Dressed in a suit, the man entered the prestigious boutique, pulled out a gun and forced staff to hand over some 15 pieces of jewellery, police said.

"The Chopard robbery on Place Vendome today must have been for at least six million euros," a police spokesman said.

The man acted alone, another Paris police source said, estimating his take could have reached as much 10 million euros.

Based in Switzerland, Chopard is known for adorning movie stars strutting on red carpets at high-profile events such as the Cannes film festival or Hollywood's Academy Awards.

Police have noted a marked increase in robberies in recent years.

The heist, which took place in mid-afternoon, came after a gang of armed men stole gems worth 85 million euros from jewellers Harry Winston in Paris in December, a robbery described by the media as one of the biggest in recent history.

The Harry Winston raid came almost a year to the day after the same store was attacked by robbers who forced staff to empty its safes, taking at least $24.96 million ($US16 million) worth of jewels.

Earlier this month, two key members of the "Pink Panthers" international gang of jewels thieves were arrested in Paris, Interpol said.

The "Pink Panthers" have accumulated loot worth up to $312 million ($US200 million) in an estimated 120 attacks on luxury stores in some 20 countries since their first robbery in London's chic Mayfair district in 2003.