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Theives suck up jewels in robbery

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PARIS (Reuters) - Thieves behind a rash of daring jewellery robberies in Paris have used a bewildering variety of tactics to snatch their precious haul, but the latest innovation, a vacuum cleaner, has surprised even the police.

Four men on motorcycles roared up to a jewellers in a wealthy Paris district on Wednesday morning, smashed glass display units and then used a battery-operated, hand-held vacuum cleaner to clean up.

"Using a vacuum cleaner, that was new. Thieves certainly don't lack innovation," said Patrick Mauduit, a spokesman for police officers' union Synergie Officiers.

"We'll certainly see that again. It's clever. In one swipe they sucked up jewels that usually have to be picked by hand."

The attack was the latest in a spate of armed daylight robberies on jewellers and foreign-exchange offices in the French capital that have made national headlines as much for their increased frequency as for the thieves' barefaced cheek.

With crime the top issue in elections here, news that the robbers feel confident enough to strike in busy districts in daylight hours has only fuelled a sense of fear and calls for a crackdown on delinquency and offenders.

Eight jewellers in Paris have been robbed so far this year, compared to 13 during the whole of 2001, police said. They suspect more than one group is at work.

Jewellers and money changers are less well guarded than banks and therefore easier targets.

In May, two well-dressed men wearing ties and sunglasses walked into luxury jeweller Fred on the capital's classy Place Vendome with a tear-gas canister hidden in a bunch of flowers.

They released the irritant, smashed cabinets, grabbed a handful of jewels and jumped into a stolen getaway car outside.

That was the fourth jewellers in the fashionable district to be robbed in just eight weeks, and was the final straw for a sector that draws the world's rich and famous to the city.

Worried about rising insurance premiums and increased security costs, not to mention terrified shop assistants, jewellers' associations held a crisis meeting with Paris police last week and were assured more would be done to protect them.

"If armed men get out of a car, carrying a Kalashnikov and other weapons, and walk into a bureau de change on a street as busy as the Champs Elysee, as happened just a few weeks ago, there is little police can do," said Mauduit of the officers' union.

"You can hardly have a shoot-out with so many people about."

Police have rejected suggestions that a single gang might be behind the recent spate of attacks since some robberies are highly slick and professional and others more haphazard.

"There is certainly not one particular gang or network, but rather a series of units, mostly young delinquents who have gone quickly from petty crime to armed attacks," said Mauduit.

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:s2 :s2 :s2 :s2 :se

Now where did I put the Dyson ;D

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          That is amazing!  Especially considering the battery powered vacuums I've owned,  couldn't even pick up the lint off the floor,  let alone heavy jewelry!!   :s3

           (wonder what brand they use?)  ???  ;D

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good point!

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