Fashion Robberies on Paris’s Swankiest Streets Spawn Ridicule

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A policeman stands in front of the French luxury boutique Colette on March 22, 2014 in Paris. Two masked robbers wielding a gun and an axe burst into the Colette boutique in the heart of Paris earlier today, making off with 600,000 euros ($800,000) worth of goods from the trendy concept store, officials said. The pair held up the store on Saint-Honore street, near the Place de Vendome, shortly after it opened at 10:00 am and briefly detained the seven people who were inside as they scooped up merchandise, mostly expensive watches, before fleeing on a scooter. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD        (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman stands in front of the French luxury boutique Colette on March 22, 2014 in Paris. Two masked robbers wielding a gun and an axe burst into the Colette boutique in the heart of Paris earlier today, making off with 600,000 euros ($800,000) worth of goods from the trendy concept store, officials said. The pair held up the store on Saint-Honore street, near the Place de Vendome, shortly after it opened at 10:00 am and briefly detained the seven people who were inside as they scooped up merchandise, mostly expensive watches, before fleeing on a scooter. Photo: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images

Paris's Place Vendôme might be one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world. It's home to the Hotel Ritz and studded with high-end boutiques: Chanel, Dior, Cartier. It has also been the site of three armed robberies in the past three weeks.

Most recently, the smash-and-grab thieves targeted Colette, the boutique that caters to the deep-pocketed hipster set with an expensive "water bar" and 985 clocks. The burglars made off with 600,000 worth of watches. Sounding vaguely self-promotional, owner Colette Roussaux told the New York Times, "They came for the opportunity and the beautiful watches here. And we don’t sell Swatches."

What's perhaps more surprising than the crime spree in a typically calm area is the way the French public has reacted. The crime has already been mocked on a TV show called Le Petit Journal, with a skit about the burglars deciding which designer gloves to wear. Enterprising students made T-shirts that read "I Robbed Colette." Why all the jeering? Perhaps it's because, in a country with 25.4 percent youth unemployment (by contrast, the United States' is 14.4 percent) and overall economic woes (freshly appointed Prime Minister Manuel Valls is tasked with cutting public spending), the average Joe, or Jean, doesn't have a lot of patience for the one percent. If anything, they might be on the side of the thieves.

Those "I Robbed Colette" tees? They sold 1,000 of them in two days at 25 a pop — about $34. At Colette, that will buy you, no joke, two stickers.