Europe

Harry Winston Paris jewellery heists: Eight jailed

  • 28 February 2015
  • From the section Europe
The Harry Winston boutique in Paris, file
Image caption The Harry Winston boutique attracts a wealthy clientele

Eight men have been jailed over a double heist on the Harry Winston store in Paris that netted watches and jewels worth more than $100m (£65m).

The sentences ranged from nine months to the 15-year term given to the man believed to be the mastermind, Douadi Yahiaoui, nicknamed "Doudou".

Four robbers pretended to be builders in the first heist in October 2007.

A year later, four thieves again gained access, with three of them this time wearing women's clothing and wigs.

In March 2011, police found $19m worth of jewellery from the 2008 heist stuffed in a drain in the Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, but much of the loot has never been recovered.

'Ashamed'

Prosecutor Sylvie Kachaner said Yahiaoui, 50, who has already served 23 years for theft and drug trafficking, was the brains behind the outfit.

She said: "He is the one who organised everything, recruited the robbers, gave instructions and was in charge of selling the jewellery."

Image caption Some of the jewellery was recovered but most remains missing

One of those convicted was Mouloud Djennad, who provided insider information from his job as a security guard at the store.

He had told the court: "My thoughts are with my former colleagues at Harry Winston. I'm ashamed every day but I cannot undo what I've done."

For the 2007 heist, Djennad let in the robbers the evening before. They threatened employees and took items worth about $35m.

The heist in December 2008 netted about $79m.

A lawyer for one of the defendants, Eric Dupond-Moretti, told Agence France-Presse: "It's an exceptional case with unusual aspects. In television series about heists, they wear bulletproof vests. Here it's fishnet stockings and high heels."

The Harry Winston boutique is situated on the fashionable Avenue Montaigne and attracts a wealthy clientele from around the world, from royalty to film stars.

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