Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Burglars Smash Car Into Chanel Boutique to Steal Handbags

What would you do for a Chanel handbag? Would you save your pennies for a big stylish splurge or just drive a car through the security grill of a fancy boutique and scoot off with the pricey goods, leaving the car behind?

Last week, burglars in Paris opted for the latter, driving a sports utility vehicle through the Chanel boutique in a posh central neighborhood. This is one in a string of robberies of high-end shops in recent years reportedly. The robbers took off on motor scooters, leaving their car burning behind them after the smash n' grab.

Coveted Bags

Chanel handbags are not cheap. A "classic flap bag" of calfskin, with the brand's signature quilted style, costs $4,900 new. Experts told the Wall Street Journal that the goods stolen in Paris will likely find their way online and be sold for much less than the retail value.

This raises the question of whether crime pays. The heist in Paris last week could not have been cheap to pull off -- the perpetrators sacrificed a vehicle to do the deed (although that too may have been stolen).

Chanel store workers confirmed the robbery occurred but declined to give details on the value of the stolen goods, nor to specify just how many of the coveted bags were nabbed. But if the bags are headed for online auction sites, even those specializing in high-end goods, they will be sold for much less than when they were on offer for in the Paris boutique.

Piling on Charges

In stark contrast to another high-end robbery that occurred relatively recently -- a force-free theft from Gwyneth Paltrow's high-end pop-up shop in Manhattan late last year -- the Chanel Paris heist perpetrators' modus operandi represents poor planning. That is if viewed from a punishment perspective and if considered according to American criminal laws.

The use of force in the Chanel heist makes it a more severe crime than merely stealing handbags from the store. Stealing something using force or threat, however, is a robbery and is considered much more severe than a simple theft because it has a violent element.

Luckily for the robbers, so far their plan to scoot off has worked out well and there have been no arrests reported. And if you are lucky too, you'll see those classic bags they took for sale online soon ... probably for a steal.

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