Five Ways to Avoid Having Your Diamonds Stolen by Jewel Thieves

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
July 30 2013 3:17 PM

Five Ways to Avoid Having Your Diamonds Stolen by Jewel Thieves

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Police cars are parked outside the Carlton Hotel on July 28, 2013, in the French Riviera resort of Cannes, after an armed man held up the jewllery exhibition "Extraordinary diamonds."

Photo by Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

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Last Sunday a lone thief stole approximately $136 million worth of diamonds from a Cannes hotel in what observers are calling the biggest jewel heist in French history. Authorities worry that the heist may somehow be linked to the reemergence of the devious “Pink Panther” gang, which, despite what you are probably thinking, is not just Peter Sellers and a bag of fake mustaches. “The theft of high-value diamonds is exactly what they do, so it's not a great leap to assume they are on the warpath again,” one expert told the Los Angeles Times. “They are a crime wave waiting to happen.”

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The Cannes heist is just the latest in a recent spree of high-value European jewel thefts; earlier this year, for example, a gang dressed as police officers stole about $50 million worth of diamonds from the tarmac at Brussels International Airport. With Pink Panthers on the loose and diamond thefts on the rise, jewel owners could obviously use some help securing their valuables. As a man with no security experience, I feel comfortable dispensing that advice. Here are five tips on how to avoid having your diamonds stolen by thieves.

Don’t go to Cannes. You’re a wealthy, bejeweled jet-setter, and you want to spend your vacation among your own kind. Where better to go than the French Riviera? Answer: Just about anywhere, if you want to keep your jewels safe. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Cannes area has been hit by a string of recent thefts, “including a cache of necklaces and earrings worth $1.4 million that were intended to be loaned to movie stars.” I would especially caution you to stay away from the Carlton International Hotel, which, in addition to being the site of last Sunday’s robbery, also hosted a $77 million heist in 1994. Maybe consider taking your vacation somewhere less flashy, like Branson, Mo., or the Wisconsin Dells? You won’t run into any jewel thieves at the Dells, and you’ll also have a heck of a good time at Paul Bunyan’s restaurant and the Tommy Bartlett Thrill Show.

Close and lock your windows and doors. It’s funny that this most recent Cannes heist is being portrayed as some criminal masterstroke, because, as far as I understand it, the dude just came in through a window. The Wall Street Journal reports that the suspect “entered the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel on the French Riviera resort's beachfront through a terrace and a side French window, which was supposedly locked, and stole 34 pieces of jewelry before escaping.” A “supposedly locked” window does not count as an awesome security feature, unless your standards are very low, which they shouldn’t be if you own millions of dollars' worth of diamonds. Listen up, richies: Make sure the windows to the room where you’re storing your diamonds are more than just "supposedly locked." The doors, too. And it would probably behoove you to invest in some laser-based security system while you’re at it.

Keep your jewels out of sight. The jewels that were stolen in Cannes were there as part of an exhibition. The solution here is simple: Don’t exhibit your jewels! Science tells us that jewels become 200 percent more steal-able when they are put on display under some big glass boxy for the benefit of a bunch of gawky tourists. Keep your jewels in a safe, preferably one that’s underground. If you must exhibit something, go catch a bunch of butterflies and pin them to a sheet.

Keep your stupid mouth shut. The Wall Street Journal reports that the “jewel exhibition was well advertised in the Cannes area so many people knew diamonds were in the hotel.” I guess you can’t fault the exhibition’s operators for advertising their jewel show, but, still, the broader point remains. Jewel heists happen when thieves cultivate inside sources who will pass along information about where and how jewels are being stored or transported, and about how to defeat security systems. Guard against these sorts of harmful leaks by keeping sensitive information to yourself, and sharing it only with your most trusted associates and employees.

Watch all the Pink Panther movies for helpful tips on how to stop crime. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure that this will help, but Inspector Clouseau did always get his man sooner or later, so maybe there’s something helpful you can learn from his bumbling antics. If not, well, at least you’ll have a couple of good laughs, which will help soothe the pain of having all your diamonds stolen.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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