MONACO, (Reuters) – After six years of being outwitted by the so-called “Pink Panther” jewel thieves, police from 16 countries have met in Monaco to coordinate efforts to capture the gang that has bagged loot worth up to $200 million.
The Pink Panthers are estimated to have staged some 120 attacks on luxury stores in around 20 countries, since their first robbery in London’s exclusive Mayfair district in 2003.
International police organisation Interpol believes there may be as many as 200 “Pink Panther” criminals, many of whom are Serbian nationals with military experience.
The group was given its nickname by British police after the 2003 robbery and refers to the debonair gentleman diamond robber from the 1960s Pink Panther film.
The truth is very different, says Emmanuel Leclaire, deputy director of criminal affairs and drug trafficking at Interpol.
“These are violent people with a lot of weaponry who don’t hesitate to open fire if they get into difficulty, even if they haven’t killed anyone yet,” said Leclaire during the two-day police gathering on Wednesday and Thursday.
The group pulled off one of their most spectacular heists last December when they walked away with up to 85 million euros ($110 million) worth of goods after entering the Harry Winston jewellers in central Paris disguised as women.