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Thief Uses Cigarette Ruse to Steal $830K Timepiece

Newser — Arden Dier

A French thief made off with an $830,000 diamond-encrusted watch, simply by taking it from the owner's wrist. So say Paris police, who are no strangers to such crimes.

Thieves are known to hang around luxury hotels and jewelry shops near the Champs-Elysées, hoping to snatch a timepiece that might be sold for up to half its retail value on the black market, CNN reports via French affiliate BFMTV.

That's apparently what happened Monday as a 30-year-old Japanese businessman smoked a cigarette outside the Hôtel Napoléon around 9pm. Police say the thief approached, asked for a cigarette, then snatched the watch as the owner presented his hand.



It's a tried-and-true strategy, per BFMTV, which reports thieves are also known to make a grab after asking for a photo or nudging a vehicle's side mirror so that the driver reaches a hand out to adjust it.

In this case, the thief made off with a Richard Mille Tourbillon Diamond Twister. The Swiss timepiece, which showcases its inner mechanisms, is "highly prized by aficionados—and instantly recognizable to thieves targeting wealthy tourists in the French capital," which has seen 71 watch thefts this year, reports AFP.

Per the Local, an organized crime task force hopes to obtain DNA and other identifying information from a cellphone dropped at the scene.

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