PARIS: Two Qatari women were held up on a Paris motorway and robbed of valuables worth more than five million euros ($5.3 million) in the latest heist targeting wealthy visitors to the French capital. The women, in their sixties, had just left Le Bourget airport northeast of the capital on Monday when their chauffeur-driven Bentley was held up by two masked men who sprayed them with tear gas, a police source said Tuesday. The robbers stole “everything in the vehicle: Jewels, clothes, luggage”, the source said.
Last month, American reality TV star Kim Kardashian was tied up and robbed at gunpoint of $10 million in jewels in a luxury apartment in the heart of Paris. Police said the robbers held a gun to Kardashian’s head, bound and gagged her and shut her into a bathroom in the biggest jewelry robbery of an individual in France in more than 20 years. In another incident, Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat was punched in the face and sprayed with tear gas by three masked men in an upmarket area of Paris this month. The 40-year-old star and her partner were attacked as they returned to an apartment building in the chic 16th district by three masked men who tried to steal her handbag.
The incidents have done little to help efforts by the government to coax tourists back to France in the wake of the Nov 2015 jihadist attacks in which 130 people died, followed by the Bastille Day truck massacre in southern city Nice that killed 86. In the Paris area alone, tourism revenue is expected to plunge by €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) this year. Security has been stepped up around tourist magnets in Paris in response to the high-profile robberies.
The attack on the Qatari women took place on a section of motorway leading north from Paris to the Charles de Gaulle and Le Bourget airports which is often the scene of holdups targeting wealthy foreigners in luxury cars, some of whom carry large amounts of cash. The robbers often take advantage of traffic jams near the Landy tunnel, which is some 1.3 km long, to pounce. Last month, a taxi transporting the chief executive of a French furniture chain among other passengers was held up after leaving Le Bourget, which is often used by private jets.
The three robbers made off with an estimated €100,000 in valuables. A Korean art collector was the target of a similar heist last year, with three attackers snatching four million euros in Chanel jewels from her car in the Landy tunnel. – AFP