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French police arrest jewel thief

PARIS — Police stormed a villa in southeast France and arrested a member of the notorious Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves who had escaped from a Swiss prison earlier this year, officials said Wednesday.

During the dawn sweep Monday, nearly 20 well-armed police detained Zoran Tomovic, 47, as he tried to flee through a window in the home of an acquaintance in the Provence town of Bedarrides, the officials said. The special French search brigade was working on a tip from Swiss authorities.

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‘‘He tried to play his card, but because the house was surrounded, he wasn’t able to get far,’’ said Divisional Commissioner Pascal Gontier of the judicial police in southern Montpellier. The owner of the home was an old acquaintance of the suspect who ‘‘apparently did not know about his recent misadventures.’’

Southeast France has faced a spate of high-profile jewelry thefts recently. Last month, a gunman walked into a diamond jewelry show at a hotel in Cannes and made off with a breathtaking $136 million worth of valuables.

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