Jewelry heists usually come in the form of someone robbing a jewelry store, and they are usually caught pretty quickly due to all the security cameras these days. But, when a jewelry heist nets 85 million euros ($95,058,560 in US dollars) the thieves have to do a little more planning…if they plan to remain anonymous and get away with their heist, that is. In reality, there were two heists that took place at Harry Winston’s Avenue Montaigne shop, and the grand total was $113 million in jewelry and other valuables. The heists took place in October of 2007 and December of 2008.
These robbers were very sophisticated in how they carried out these heists. The heists were carried out in broad daylight. In the 2008 robbery, the men boldly walked in through the front door of Harry Winston’s Paris shop. Despite the fact that three of them were dressed as women in wigs and heels, they were all men. They walked in, pulled a hand grenade and a gun, and in less than 20 minutes, the security guard held the door for them as they walked out to a waiting car with their rolling suitcase filled with over $90 million of jewels and watches.
Eight men were convicted for their roles in those two bold jewelry heists in 2007 and 2008, in which they made off with an estimated $113 million in jewelry and other valuables, most of which has never been found. It was said that the police never had a chance. That was in December of 2008 and to the frustration of Harry Winston, their insurer Lloyds of London, and the police, it was the second massive jewelry heist at the store in just over a year. The earlier job took place in October in 2007 and involved four men masquerading as builders. They were let in through a back door with the help of an inside man and made off with close to $30 million in diamonds, luxury watches, necklaces, earrings and other valuables
Finally, in March 2011, there was a small breakthrough when the police recovered some of the jewelry after a 2009 crime sweep in Paris. Police recovered $20 million worth of jewelry (19 rings and three sets of earrings) from the 2008 heist. Found in a drain in the Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, it was all that was ever located.
After a trial that started in early February, eight men were convicted for their roles in the crimes. Their sentences ranged from nine months to 15 years. The longest sentence was for the crime’s purported mastermind, Douadi Yahiaoui, a repeat criminal offender and drug trafficker. His 59 year old brother Mohammed was also convicted. In all, the Paris police arrested 25 men in the Harry Winston jewel heist probe. The suspects ranged from 22 years old to 67 years old.