A former butcher with no previous criminal record has shocked locals with a series of hold-ups near the small town of Roquemaure in southern France.

"/> A former butcher with no previous criminal record has shocked locals with a series of hold-ups near the small town of Roquemaure in southern France.

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OFFBEAT

75-year old grandfather mounts mini crime wave

A former butcher with no previous criminal record has shocked locals with a series of hold-ups near the small town of Roquemaure in southern France.

The man held up a grocery store, a service station and a café, each time only netting a few hundred euros. 

 

A court in Nîmes was told that the man had recently gone through a period of hardship, including the death of his daughter and the illness of his wife. He cited money difficulties as the reason for his actions.

 

Known only as Claude, the man’s approach would be to arrive on his bicycle, armed with an alarm gun and teargas. He would hand his victim a note saying “this is an armed robbery. I have terminal pancreatic cancer.” He told the court that he actually suffered from arthritis.

 

The magistrate said that crimes by older people were becoming more common as financial problems hit retirees harder. However, he said, “this was not a simple case of shoplifting”.

 

The 75-year old had hoped to be released but was ordered to stay in detention.

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OFFBEAT

France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.

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