Armed thieves entered the luxury Ritz Hotel in Paris and stole valuable jewels and other goods from a hotel boutique Wednesday, carrying out an unusually brazen heist in one of the world's most prestigious neighborhoods. Three suspects were quickly arrested near the chic Place Vendome in central Paris, but at least two others got away, a police official says. No one was injured. None of the jewels or other items have been recovered so far, an official familiar with the investigation tells the AP. French media estimated the stolen merchandise as worth at least $5.4 million. One official says some of the thieves apparently had guns but could not confirm reports that they used hatchets to smash the glass.
The thieves appeared to have entered through a side street entrance on Rue Cambon at around 6pm local time, smashed display cases in the Reza jewelry store, and took valuables, one official says. Two people were inside the store at the time and alerted police. A woman leaving the Ritz after the robbery described drinking a cocktail in the hotel's Bar Hemingway when "total panic" broke out. "I saw hooded men with guns, and then my only aim was getting out of there. So I left through the bar. I escaped. I ran and ran," she says. "I found myself in the basement of the Ritz and then I continued to run without knowing how to get around. I didn't know what had happened. I thought it was an attack." (Last week, thieves made off with famed jewels from an exhibition at a Venetian palace.)