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Europe

Paris thieves steal millions in highway heist

Two sisters from Qatar have been robbed of cash and valuables worth some 5 million euros ($5.3 million) on a Paris highway. Police say the thieves used tear gas to subdue the women before pilfering the rented Bentley.

Police are searching for at least two suspects after a brazen Monday night attack in which a rented Bentley luxury car was stopped and robbed by attackers. Police say the robbers used tear gas to incapacitate two sisters from Qatar before stealing "everything in the vehicle: jewels, clothes, luggage," a police source told the AFP news agency. 

Highwaymen more brazen

Highway robbery is not uncommon in France. In fact, that stretch of highway leading north from Paris to the Charles de Gaulle and Le Bourget airports is often the scene of hold-ups targeting wealthy foreigners in luxury cars, many of whom carry large amounts of cash. A taxi transporting the CEO of a French furniture chain among other passengers was held up last month after leaving Le Bourget, police said. A trio of robbers escaped with about 100,000 euros worth of valuables in that heist.

Frankreich Autobahn bei Paris (picture-alliance/maxppp/D. Gautier)

Paris has seen a number of high-profile robberies targeting foreigners.

A downturn on visitors in 2016

A perceived rise in crime will almost certainly affect tourism.

Bookings of flights into France dipped 8.1 percent over the first nine months of 2016 versus the same period a year earlier, and more heavily than that in the wider Paris region, though it's not clear whether jitters over public safety is a major factor or part of a wider economic trend.

jar/tj (AFP, Reuters)