Europe

Did old-timers target Kardashian West's jewels in Paris?

File photo dated 21/05/16 of Kim Kardashian West as thieves who robbed her at gunpoint were targeting possessions seen on social media, police said after the multi-million pound jewellery raid. Image copyright PA
Image caption One of the jewels stolen from Kim Kardashian West was a 20-carat diamond engagement ring worth an estimated €4m

Seasoned veterans of crime, some in their 60s and 70s, are among the suspects arrested for theft of €9m (£8m; $9.5m) of jewellery from Kim Kardashian West in Paris, according to French police. They were anxious for a last, lucrative haul, they believe.

One of those detained in Monday's round-up was Pierre B, a 72-year-old of Algerian descent picked up on the Cote d'Azur.

The suspects held in the Paris region included three men in their sixties and a couple aged 70, French reports say.

One of the men, aged 60 and detained in the eastern suburb of Vincennes, is described by French media as the suspected mastermind of the hotel robbery.

Three of the 17 initially detained have since been released - including Kardashian West's chauffeur during Paris Fashion Week, Michael Madar, 40.

But his brother, Gary Madar, is said to be still in custody.

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Media captionKim Kardashian West is seen talking about the robbery in a promotional clip from Keeping Up with the Kardashians

The older members of the group include several individuals from the Manouche (French Gypsy or Roma) community, police say. Some have long police records for armed robbery and counterfeiting. Other, younger members are suspected by police to have been involved in arranging for the jewels to be sold on.

According to one account, in L'Express magazine (in French), it is believed it was the "veterans" who carried out the actual robbery. Five men broke into the residence, holding a gun to Kardashian West's head before binding and gagging her in the bathroom.

Read more on the Paris robbery

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police are investigating whether the gang had inside information before the raid at an exclusive Paris hotel

The two witnesses to the robbery - Kardashian West herself as well the night-watchman - both told police that their aggressors were men "of a certain age", according to L'Express. CCTV footage on the street outside also provided crucial evidence.

"We would expect the people who carried out a job like this to be criminals with a certain degree of experience. They would need the connections to be able to dispose of the jewels once they had got their hands on them," one police source told the BBC.

The raids produced no trace of the stolen jewels, which include a diamond ring worth €4m, leading police to suspect they have already been broken up and sold. Some €300,000 in cash was found at different locations, as well as hand-guns and a pump-action shotgun.

Image copyright Startraks Photo/REX/Shutterstock
Image caption Kim Kardashian West returned to New York to be reunited with her husband hours after the robbery

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Police confirmed that the gang had been under surveillance for several weeks, after DNA traces left at the scene provided a match with a known former criminal. There were two traces: one on the plastic strap used to bind Kardashian's wrists, the other on a necklace dropped by one of the robbers on the pavement.

Throughout the inquiry there have been suspicions about whether the robbery was an insider job.

Police were intrigued at how the gang were captured on CCTV at the scene at 2.15am, minutes before Kardashian West arrived from a restaurant.

They believe the gang may have been tipped off that she was on her way, unaccompanied by her bodyguard, who that night was with her sister at a club.

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