Cannes thief walks off with $53 million in jewels in midday heist

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The famous and beautiful might sleep clutching their diamonds tonight in Cannes, France.

A thief made off with jewels and gems valued at about 40 million euro, or $53 million, from the Carlton International Hotel in Cannes, police told the Associated Press on Sunday. The collection was on display for the summer as a temporary exhibit before the sticky fingered thief made off in broad daylight, the AP reported.

This may be one of the largest French jewel heists ever, police said, but it’s not the first the glitzy beach town has seen this year.

Police officers stand guard outside the Suite Novotel Cannes Centre hotel where Chopard jewellery has been stolen, during the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival, in Cannes, France, 17 May 2013. Jewellery worth more than one million US dollars was due to be loaned to stars walking the red carpet. The festival runs from 15 to 26 May. EPA/SEBASTIEN NOGIER Sebastien Nogier / EPA

In May, a jewelry thief made off with gems by Chopard, a Swiss jeweler known for decorating celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival. Chopard said in a statement that the jewels were not part of the collection sported by the stars at the festival – but the thief still slunk off with hundreds of thousands of dollars of his glittering wares.

The thief tore a safe from a four-star hotel room in the early morning hours of May 17 where a U.S. employee of Chopard was staying, a police source told NBC News. Chopard said that the worker wasn’t in the room at the time of the heist and that it is common for company employees to stay out late during the Cannes festival.

Chopard is also responsible for the Palme d’Or, the prestigious cinema award that is presented to the best picture at Cannes. Festival organizers assured reporters that the prize was safe at the time. The Palme d’Or, which Chopard first designed in 1997, is cut from a single piece of crystal and covered with a 24-carat gold palm.

In February, $1 million worth of luxury watches were stolen from along the main drag in Cannes.

The French Riviera and Monaco, two of the wealthiest areas in the world, have been plagued with jewelry heists for the past decade. A group known as the Pink Panthers have lifted jewels and gems in the area in the past, according to police.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.