A Japanese businessman had a watch worth more than $800,000 seized from his wrist outside a five-star hotel in Paris, police said.
The man had stepped out of the Hôtel Napoléon, near the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées, around 9 p.m. on Monday evening to smoke a cigarette, when a thief snatched the watch from his wrist, a spokesman for the Paris police told CNN.
The victim was approached by a man who asked him for a cigarette, but when he put his hand out, the thief seized the timepiece and ran away, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.
The watch was a Richard Mille Tourbillon Diamond Twister, it added. This Swiss luxury timepiece, which is decorated with a diamond-covered spiral, retails for €757,000 ($830,000). Because of its value, the case was transferred to an organized crime task force, the spokesman said.
More than 70 luxury watches stolen
Paris has seen a spate of luxury watch thefts in recent months. In the first eight months of the year, 71 cases were reported, according to BFMTV.
Most thefts happen in the chic 8th arrondissement just off the Champs-Elysées, where a lot of luxury hotels and jewelry shops are located, according to BFMTV. Four thefts took place on a single day in July, with watches worth a total €190,000 stolen, it added.
The luxury timepieces can be resold on the black market for 30% to 50% of their value, according to BFMTV.
Thieves have developed several techniques to steal the watches, BFMTV reports. Some will punch their victim or knock him or her off a scooter.
Others will ask for a cigarette, a photo to be taken or for their way, before making off with the watch. Another ruse is to bump into a car mirror, prompting the driver to stick his or her hand out to set it straight.