Insurers offer $1 million Paris gem heist reward

Tue Dec 9, 2008 5:54am EST
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PARIS (Reuters) - Insurers are prepared to pay a $1 million reward for information leading to the recovery of gems stolen from a luxury Paris jewelers last week in one of the biggest hold-ups in French criminal history.

"We're hoping to hear from someone who has heard something and we will pay the first person who brings us valid information that allows us to find the jewels," John Shaw, of Paris loss adjustors SW Associates, told France Info radio Tuesday. "That person will get $1 million."

A gang of armed men, some disguised as women, stole around 85 million euros ($109.3 million) worth of gems Friday from jewelers Harry Winston's on the exclusive Avenue Montaigne just off the Champs Elysees.

The robbery, described in local media as the most lucrative ever in France and reminiscent of the old-style heists beloved of generations of French thrillers, garnered wide media interest and the insurers are expecting to have to field a wave of calls.

"I imagine that with a reward of that amount we're going to have a lot of calls from people who are curious and it's not worth sending us pieces of advice or general tips," Shaw said. "It's a reward that's worth it."

(Writing by James Mackenzie, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>The media work outside the Harry Winston store in Paris December 5, 2008, the day after armed robbers stole jewels worth 85 million euros ($108 million) in a raid on the luxury shop, located just off the Champs Elysees. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>