Two thieves are on the run from police after a major jewelry theft in Paris on Wednesday.
A group of five hatchet-wielding robbers smashed the windows of Paris’ Ritz Hotel and stole the jewelry about 6:30 p.m. local time, according to Agence France-Presse. Police told the publication that three of the thieves were caught as they tried to flee. Two robbers managed to get away with nearly $5.4 million in merchandise.
“We heard a loud noise and lots of racket in the street,” one hotel employee told AFP. “Passers-by took refuge in the hotel. We didn’t know what was going on until someone told us there had been a robbery.”
Authorities shut down the streets after the incident and sealed off the Ritz. French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb tweeted his praise of the French authorities for the swift and professional handling of the situation.
“Armed robbery at the Ritz: three of the presumed thieves already arrested by police from the 2nd arrondissement,” Collomb wrote. Their sang froit, their professionalism and their quick reactions do the police proud. I am grateful to them.”
The Ritz Hotel is in Place Vendôme, a prestigious square known for its luxury retailers and hotels. Last March, two Americans were robbed of more than $400,000 in jewels in the square. And in 2013, armed robbers stole more than a million dollars worth of luxury watches in the square.