MOSCOW (AP) _ Thanks to soaring demand for luxury cars in Russia,
Bentleys are much more common on the streets of Moscow _ and a
tempting target for thieves.
At least seven of the luxury cars have been stolen in the Russian
capital this year, including two in the last week. Only one is known
to have been recovered.
City police said Sunday the most recent theft was reported Friday
by a woman in her mid-20s, who said her sky-blue Bentley Continental
was taken overnight from a parking space near her apartment building
in central Moscow. She valued the car at US$340,000, police said.
Also in the last week, police said a Bentley Continental was
stolen from Olympic gold medalist Vladimir Zhmudsky, who played on
the winning water polo team at the 1972 Summer Games.
In 2003, Bentley opened its first showroom in Moscow and sold 40
cars that year. There are now more than 1,300 in the city, the
traffic police said.
The market for imported luxury cars in Russia has soared along
with the country's oil-fed economy, even though prices are
considerably higher than in Europe because of steep customs duties.
As an increasing number of Russians have been able to afford a
Mercedes _ once the ultimate status symbol _ the super rich have
been turning to more exclusive makes. Ferrari, Lamborghini and
Maserati also have been making strong inroads on the Russian market.