A group of thieves attempting to rob one of Paris' most high-end hotels appeared to have botched the heist as police reported Thursday all of the $5.4 million worth of stolen jewels and watches was found scattered at the scene and in a bag that was dropped by one of the escaping accomplices.
The robbery occurred late Wednesday evening when five thieves, some armed with axes, smashed display cases at The Ritz and sent hotel guests and workers into panic.
The perpetrators "entered by the service entrance, smashed the jewelry stands, grabbed jewels that were clearly expensive with the help of axes," said Jean-Michel Huguet of police union Alliance Police Nationale.
Three suspects inside threw bags of goods out a window to at least two accomplices outside, according to a police official. The three inside were then blocked when they tried to flee through another door, the official said.
Police managed to arrest three of the thieves at the scene but two escaped using a motorcycle and car.
Authorities believe one of the escaping thieves mistakenly dropped a bag of stolen goods when his motorcycle knocked into a pedestrian during his escape.
An official close to the investigation said Thursday night that all the stolen goods have been recovered, after authorities and jewelers carefully examined the contents of the bag and debris and found everything had been accounted for.
Police continue to hunt for the two robbers who managed to escape the scene.
The robbery raised questions about security in one of the world's most prestigious neighborhoods, the Place Vendome, whose well-guarded buildings include the Justice Ministry, high-end boutiques and the 19th century Ritz.
Paris police are investigating whether renovation work underway at the Ritz may have contributed to the lack of security, Sky News reported.
Patrons at the hotel's renowned Hemingway Bar described panic as the thieves entered the hushed environment of the Ritz, where rooms start at $1,200 a night.
Several high-end Paris jewelry stores have been targets of dramatic robberies in recent years, including Cartier, Harry Winston and Chopard. Kim Kardashian West said she lost millions of dollars' worth of jewelry when she was robbed at gunpoint in a Paris apartment in October 2016.
The Ritz was an especially luxurious target. The hotel has housed such famous names as Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel. It was the last place Princess Diana ate before her fatal car crash in a Paris tunnel, and hosts elite guests from around the world drawn to the refined neighborhood.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.