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25 arrested in 2008 Paris jewelry heist

French police arrested 25 suspects Monday in connection with last year's multimillion-dollar robbery at a fashionable jewelry store and recovered some of the stolen items.
/ Source: The Associated Press

French police said Monday they have arrested 25 suspects in connection with last year's multimillion-dollar robbery at Harry Winston jewelers and recovered some of the stolen rings, necklaces and watches.

The robbers, some dressed as women and wearing wigs, had grabbed $118 million worth of loot Dec. 5 at the store on a fashionable street off the Champs-Elysees. It was one of France's largest jewelry thefts.

French investigators and police had been watching suspects in and around Paris for months. On Sunday, they learned foreigners were on their way to collect some of the booty, police said Monday on condition of anonymity.

Police swooped in and made the arrests Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, police said.

The suspects range in age from 22 to 67 and include some women. Police also recovered shoulder weapons, as well as $345,000 in cash.

The robbery took place several weeks before Christmas. The armed thieves, some of them dressed as women and wearing wigs, entered Harry Winston through the front door. They scooped up rings, necklaces, earrings and other jewels before escaping down the Avenue Montaigne. The store, on the same street as Dior, Armani, Prada and other boutiques, has been the target of thieves on several other occasions.

Members of the Pink Panthers gang that operates out of the Balkans and have been involved in some other high-profile jewel thefts were originally suspects, but they appear to have been ruled out, police said.

The Harry Winston chain provided jewels to Richard Burton for his wife Elizabeth Taylor and shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis bought an engagement ring there for former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

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