Meridian Star

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July 31, 2013

Jewel heist on Riviera raises security questions

(Continued)

PARIS —

"In this case, it's more a question of disorganization than of weapons," he said.

Police in Cannes haven't drawn any specific links between Cannes and the escape Thursday of Milan Poparic, said to be the third member of the Pink Panther group to break out of a Swiss prison in as many months.

"But the Pink Panthers are known for these brazen acts of rushing into a place, quickly intimidating the people there and getting the loot and making their getaway," said Scott Andrew Selby, co-author of "Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History," about a 2003 heist in Antwerp, Belgium.

For the thieves, France is a place "they're comfortable hitting."

Selby said it's unlikely the bandit was working alone — suggesting he might have had a "scout" to scope out the hotel beforehand, or a getaway driver at the ready, even an adviser to help fence the stolen diamonds later on.

French authorities were poring over video surveillance footage, going back over other jewelry-theft case files and conducting other "standard judicial police work," said Mascarelli by phone.

The Carlton featured in Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief," which starred Grace Kelly as an heiress and Cary Grant as a reformed burglar chasing a jewel thief. The thief, at least in the Hollywood ending, is caught in the chase.

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