Ten suspected robbers are to be tried in Paris from Tuesday for having participated, to varying degrees, in the thefts committed on December 11, 2015 at the famous jeweler Chopard in the Place Vendôme in Paris, then, on May 19, 2016, in the boutique. Chanel from the very chic avenue Montaigne.
The trial, which initially opened on October 6, 2020, was postponed after the Covid-19 contamination of one of the accused.
The ten men were indicted for theft in an organized gang with weapons, criminal conspiracy and concealment of theft in an organized gang.
The first robbery took place in December 2015, a few weeks after the November 13 attacks and in a state of emergency, in a Chopard store located a stone’s throw from the Elysee Palace.
A malefactor, wearing a latex mask and showing off a handgun, came to the store and had the windows opened by two employees after threatening them. He had stolen watches and jewelry worth around a million euros, according to the prosecution.
The man had left on foot before joining one of the three cars parked nearby by accomplices.
The second robbery took place in May 2016. At least seven armed men broke into the Chanel Joaillerie boutique on avenue Montaigne in Paris, scooping up around two million euros worth of jewelry and watches after violently overpowering three security guards and two saleswomen.
The criminals had smashed the armored windows with a sledgehammer before fleeing by motorbike and car.
According to investigators, these two robberies were “probably” committed by the same team.
The stolen watches and jewelry were never found.
Now aged between 28 and 41, the ten accused are, for some, childhood friends or have family ties. According to the prosecution, at least three of them are also involved in the theft, committed between January and May 2016, of five luxury 4×4 Range-Rovers. These vehicles were most often resold for 5,000 euros in cash.
The investigation also made it possible to discover in May 2016 a stock of weapons and explosives hidden in a car stored in the courtyard of an old lady’s home in Blanc-Mesnil (Seine-Saint-Denis). This woman had agreed to “render service” in total ignorance of what was housed in the BMW vehicle.
Investigators from the Banditry Repression Brigade (BRB) had notably found two kilos of explosives, two Kalashnikov-type automatic assault rifles, cartridges (hidden in Tupperware-type boxes) and a defensive grenade. The DNA fingerprints of two of the accused were found on these weapons.
Some of the defendants are also suspected of being at the origin of the theft, in June 2016 in Noisy-le-Grand (Seine-Saint-Denis), of an unmarked vehicle of the Brink’s fund transport company. This vehicle, discreetly followed before its flight by a white car with tinted windows, contained in particular a briefcase filled with 20,500 euros in small denominations. The Brink’s vehicle was found abandoned and empty of all contents 400 meters from the site of the theft.
Investigators found that the vehicle following the Brink’s car was similar to the one used to commit the theft of the Chopard jewelry store. Above all, the sound system of a vehicle of one of the suspects of the thefts of jewelry stores by the BRB had made it possible to learn that a criminal project was in the advanced phase. The suspect detailed in detail the modus operandi of the theft of the Brink’s car as it was to occur four days later.
Part of the contents of the briefcase were later found during the search of the homes of two of the accused.
The trial of the ten suspected robbers is scheduled until January 21.