Paris police recover some jewels stolen in Ritz heist

Two raiders still at large as questions raised about security in luxury hotels

Police in Paris have recovered some jewels stolen from the Ritz Hotel in a multimillion-euro robbery but are still searching for two thieves and the rest of the missing luxury merchandise.

The dramatic heist on Wednesday evening raised questions about security in one of the world's most prestigious areas, the Place Vendome, whose well-guarded buildings include the Justice Ministry, high-end boutiques and the 19th century Ritz.

The overall value of the jewels on display was about €4.5 million and authorities were working on Thursday with the jewellers to determine how many items are still missing and their value, the official said.

Workers cleaned up shattered glass on Thursday morning and started to repair damage from the robbery. Otherwise, business appeared to be returning to normal at the Ritz, with no significant increase in security.

Three suspects entered the hotel through an unmarked side door, smashed display cases and threw bags of goods out of a window to at least two accomplices outside, according to a police official.

The three inside were then blocked when they tried to flee through another door, and soon arrested, the official said.

The accomplices outside fled, one on a motorcycle and another in a car. The motorcyclist dropped a bag with jewels and hatchets when his motorcycle hit a pedestrian during his escape, the official said. The pedestrian was slightly injured.

Other jewels were found scattered amid the debris of the shattered display cases during overnight clean-up efforts, the official said.

Another police official said some of the thieves apparently had guns. Two people inside the hotel hid from the thieves and alerted police, the official said.

Patrons at the hotel’s renowned Hemingway bar described panic as the thieves entered the hushed environment of the Ritz, where rooms start at €1,000 a night.

Several high-end Paris jewellery stores have been targets of dramatic robberies in recent years, including Cartier, Harry Winston and Chopard.

Kim Kardashian West said she lost millions of dollars' worth of jewellery when she was robbed at gunpoint in a Paris flat in October 2016.

The Ritz has housed such famous names as Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel. It was the last place Princess Diana stayed before her fatal car crash in a Paris tunnel. - AP