Police car outside the Carlton hotel in Cannes

A police car outside the Carlton hotel in Cannes. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

It’s been a particularly active year so far for jewellery heists. Not since the words “stand and deliver” were originally uttered has jewellery theft been more prolific, or brazen! One may be forgiven for thinking that jewellery theft is the latest in criminal trends, and perhaps it is! There is something very alluring and fascinating about this type of crime though isn’t there? Many a literary best seller has been based around jewellery thieves, and Hollywood is already clamouring to make a movie about the latest robbery in Cannes. And reports in digital-spy last week said that there are T-Shirts are being worn around New York saying “I’m a Pink Panther” referring of course, to the international crime ring of said name – who are incidentally are meant to be getting their own Hollywood film! So what is it about this, the most sexy of crimes? Is it because when you read the news reports diamond heists always have a cinematic feel to them? They are always painstakingly planned, there is high drama, and the chance that if one little thing had gone wrong the whole plot would be a bust.

Trendy or not, sexy or not, this type of crime doesn’t seem to be waning, and every month the swag seems to be getting bigger. So, let’s look at some of the evidence. Firstly these crimes usually cross national boundaries and secondly they are increasingly committed by organized criminal enterprises or “theft groups” the latest and most famous being the Pink Panther Gang. In fact Interpol have suggested that The Pink Panther gang is behind many of the recent jewellery crimes, they suspect that in the past 13 years the gang has managed to steal diamonds gems worth a staggering £330 million. However it is hard to know what happens after the initial robbery as in almost every major heist, the diamonds are never to be seen again! Do they sell them on, and if so who buys them? Surely they don’t wear them themselves, that would be breaking the burglar rule 101.

So the best of 2013 so far? Firstly it has to be the most recent, a lone gentleman, masked and armed, breaks into the Carlton Hotel, and, while brandishing a pistol, calmly orders staff to fill a small case with £89 million worth of jewels. Making this the biggest heist in French history!

Let us not forget that although this was arguably the most notorious robbery this year, this was in fact the 3rd jewellery robbery in the same town in a matter of weeks. The Cannes film festival, which attracts celebrities from around the world, was also hit by two jewellery thefts. A necklace by Swiss jeweller De Grisogono reportedly worth 1.9m euros ($2.5m; £1.6m) vanished after a celebrity party at a five-star hotel in the resort town of Cap d’Antibes. A week before, more than 777,000 Euros ($1m; £650,000) worth of jewels were taken from the hotel room of an employee of exclusive Swiss jewellers Chopard. And in February, armed robbers made off with a “gigantic” haul of diamonds after a rapid raid at Brussels Airport. Disguised as police, they broke through a fence and broke into the cargo of a Swiss-bound plane to take the gems, estimated to be worth $50m (£32m; 37m euros).

Of course all this glibness highlights the real issue of theft, and as we are all in the jewellery trade ourselves this is a major concern in our trade and something that we want to avoid at all costs. Thankfully there are ways to make sure your travel is safer with the valuables that you are carrying, because getting robbed is a traumatic event that no one wants to experience. Anglo Belge Special risks insurers have come up with a tips list of precautions and things to do and look out for when you go away. Primarily paying attention to your environment and always staying discrete, using your hotels safety deposit box and making sure and when visiting new clients, be careful not to display too many valuables at one time. For a full printable list of these tips follow this link www.anglobelge.com/pdf/TTUK.pdf

Oh and just in case you do come across those missing Cannes gems…………… a reward of $1.3 million has been offered to the first person who provides information that leads to the recovery of the jewels stolen in the Cannes jewellery heist! Perhaps for this, it would be prudent for us all to become detectives?

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