Paris court jails celeb-targeting burglars for up to 6 years

The seven men and one woman, aged between 27 and 31, were accused of burgling not just top players from the PSG team, but also music and TV personalities in seven burglaries in 2018 and 2019.

FILE: Former Paris Saint-Germain and now Chelsea football star Thiago Silva. Picture: @ChelseaFC/Twitter.

PARIS - A Paris court has sentenced eight people to up to six years in prison for being part of a gang of burglars who scaled buildings to steal millions in valuables from the rich and famous, including former Paris Saint-Germain football star Thiago Silva.

The seven men and one woman, aged between 27 and 31, were accused of burgling not just top players from the PSG team, but also music and TV personalities in seven burglaries in 2018 and 2019.

Operating in units of two, three or four, they robbed the homes of TV host Patrick Sebastien, celebrity chef Jean-Pierre Vigato and an unnamed wealthy Saudi national, taking a combined 4.2 million euros ($5.0 million) worth of goods.

The heaviest sentences of six years in jail were given by the court in its verdict late Wednesday to Mohamed S, who thanks to his climbing prowess was known as "The Cat" a nickname he rejects and Abdelazim G, who goes by the nickname "Bidou" or "Kid".

Mohamed S. confessed to two thefts but was convicted of five, while Abdelazim G. confessed to five and was convicted of seven. They were convicted of being part of a criminal gang and carrying out gang theft, while Mohamed S. was also convicted of possessing a weapon after a pistol was found in his car.

The five other men were sentenced to terms of between one and four years for taking part in the burglaries at different points.

The only woman among the defendants was given an 18 month suspended sentence for concealing stolen goods and possessing a weapon. None of the victims of the burglaries appeared at the trial and only the Saudi businessman filed a civil complaint.

Silva, the PSG captain at the time, now playing for Chelsea, returned home after a match on December 23, 2018 to find his safe, jewellery and watches worth a combined 1.2 million euros were gone.

Surveillance camera footage showed two men climbing up a drainpipe and entering Silva's mansion through a French window. Minutes later, they reappeared carrying their loot in a backpack and a suitcase they took from the house.

At first the suspects denied everything. But over the past year, investigators made inroads on the gang, with members admitting to some of the accusations, or claiming that they were only on lookout while others carried out the thefts.

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain stars have continued to be targeted in burglaries.

This year, Spanish PSG player Sergio Rico and Argentinians Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria were burgled, as was the family of their Brazilian teammate Marquinhos.

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