Tuesday, August 7, 2012


An Associated Press wire story has been getting some big play:
Nose for crime: $1.2M in French perfume nabbed. [MSN
A nose for crime: Masked thieves nab $1.2 million in French Givenchy perfume [WaPo
Masked thieves nab $1.2M in Givenchy perfume in France [USA Today]
First question: Who writes these headlines? Thieves don’t “nab” things, thieves are the ones who get “nabbed.”

On a Friday night a week ago, a gang of thieves overpowered a guard at the Givenchy plant in Beauvais, about an hour north of Paris, and drove off with two truckloads of perfume. The trucks—and perfume—were later found abandoned.

Second question: What the hell happened? The interesting part of this story isn’t the heist, it’s the abandonment of the loot.

One Jean-Marie Salsat is quoted as saying, “the bottles were found unused, with the stoppers still in.”

Third question: Stoppers? Is this 2012 or 1812? Calling all perfumistas: Does Givenchy market a perfume in a stoppered bottle?

Let’s turn to Matthieu Brandely at Le Parisien, for better coverage en française. His lede gets right to the heart of the mystery:
Le coup était presque parfait, mais que s’est-il réellement passé pour que les malfaiteurs abandonnent aussi étrangement leur précieux butin? Les camions étaient-ils munis d’un traceur? La marchandise était-elle « marquée »? Les malfaiteurs ont-ils flairé un piège? Et dans ce cas, pourquoi les camions n’ont-ils pas été incendiés? Les questions ne manquent pas après le casse commis chez Givenchy. 
[My ham-fisted, Google-assisted translation: The caper was almost perfect, but what happened that made the perpetrators strangely abandon their precious booty? Were the trucks equipped with a tracker? Was the merchandise “marked”? Did the robbers smell a trap? And if so, why were the trucks not burned? No shortage of issues after the break-in at Givenchy.]
According to Brandely, the robbers were a team of six or seven guys dressed in black, wearing masks and gloves. They overpowered the guard at the shipping dock and made off with two 12-ton trucks, loaded with five or six tons of palletized goods. The following Tuesday morning, the trucks are discovered at a rest stop in the town of Brie-Comte-Robert, about 40 min southeast of Paris. All the merchandise is intact, except for a few boxes that had been ripped open. (No mention of “stoppers.”)

We are left to wonder: did the fence fail to show? Did the thieves think they were made? What spooked them? Perhaps it’s wise not to overthink it. After all, million-dollar perfume heists can be the work of rank amateurs.

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