Cannes Watch Thief Busted in Morocco
It sounds like the plot of an action thriller: A pair of daring robbers hit a famous jewelry store in Cannes on the French Riviera, make off with 100 luxury watches and get away. Not only is this story real, one of the crooks spent the next two years taunting the police by posting photos of his extravagant lifestyle to Facebook.
In July of 2013, Nabil Ibelati and his brother pulled off a daring daylight robbery by bursting into Kronometry jewelers armed with a pistol and a grenade rifle. The pair tied up the staff before escaping with 100 luxury watches worth approximately $2 million. His accomplice was apprehended in France six months later but Ibelati made it to Morocco.
There he enjoyed a life of luxurious leisure, riding camels, dining on gourmet food and relaxing in the sun, all financed by selling off some of the stolen watches. Ibelati periodically posted photos of his adventures to his Facebook account, rubbing it in the faces of the French police that they had failed to arrest the watch thief. Complicating the hunt for this offender was the fact that Ibelati has both French and Moroccan nationality.
Meanwhile back in France, Ibelati was tried in absentia and on August 7 was sentenced to ten years in prison. The watch thief was also fined and ordered to make restitution for the cost of the purloined timepieces. His dual nationality did not prevent Moroccan officials from arresting Ibelati on Saturday after tapping the phones of his associates.
Alas, this story does not have a happy ending for the watch thief because he is now cooling his heels in the not-so-luxe accommodations of a Moroccan prison. However, that does not mean that French officials will be able to get their hands on this wily crook since Morocco rarely grants requests for extradition to France. Well, it was fun while it lasted.