Named after The Pink Panther series of crime comedy films, ‘Pink Panthers ‘is the name given by Interpol to an international network of jewellery thieves who are rumoured to have been involved in the theft of over $10 million worth of jewellery from Kim Kardashian on 3rd October.
The Pink Panthers are reportedly a group of Serbs from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia who are responsible for some of the most audacious thefts in criminal history. The group has targeted several countries across the globe, including Japan’s most successful robbery ever. One criminologist even described their audacious thefts as “artistry”.
Law enforcement agencies suspect the Pink Panthers to be responsible for over $500 million in robberies in Dubai, Switzerland, Japan, France, Liechtenstein, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Monaco. The Pink Panthers are thought to have been involved in the robbery of Harry Winston’s jewellery store in Paris in December 2008. The thieves escaped with more than $80 million worth of jewellery. Yip, sounds lucrative.
The Pink Panthers first came to the attention of the media in 2003 following the theft of a £500, 000 diamond from a jeweller in central London. The thieves hid the diamond in a jar of face cream, mimicking a scene in the film The Return of the Pink Panther.
In May 2003, a man was seen walking along New Bond Street in London and stopped outside the flagship store of Graff, which boasts to sell the “most fabulous jewels in the world.” The man was captured on surveillance cameras, he spoke to no one and did not go inside to look at the necklaces and rings on display and after a few minutes, stepped away from the store and continued down the street.
Around noon the man and an accomplice walked in the door and in less than 3 minutes made off with more than $30 million worth of diamonds – the biggest jewellery heist in British history – on the back of a used Vespa scooter.
Since 2002, the Pink Panthers have robbed 152 jewellery stores and their modus operandi is usually the same. A well dressed man enters the store and jars open the security door. The first man through typically has a gun and the other carry hammers and pickaxes for breaking display cases. They hide jewellery and watches in backpacks in old cars because they are less conspicuous.
Another strategy they use called vol au belier, basically means they ram something heavy into a storefront window. A robbery in Dubai in April 2007 can be seen below. The store reported that stolen items were worth $3.4 million.
In March 2004, two well-dressed men entered the Maki diamond store in Tokyo, set to commit the biggest theft in Japanese history. They are shown the Comtesse de Vendome necklace, a jewellery masterpiece adorned with 116 diamonds worth €24 million.
One of the men bends over and sprays the salesperson in the face with pepper spray. His accomplice breaks the glass with a hammer, grabs the necklace and some other diamonds and the two run out of the store and flee on motorcycles.
The whole thing is over in less than 40 seconds and the Comtesse de Vendome has not been seen since.
In July 2013, $136 million worth of jewels and diamonds were stolen in broad daylight from the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes without firing a single shot. The gunman wore a simple scarf to cover his face and walked into a bedroom where the jewellery was stored, tipped it into a briefcase and left.
Most recently and the story which has propelled the Pink Panthers into the spotlight – on the night of 3rd October, armed gunmen stole almost $10 million worth of jewellery from Kim Kardashian’s celeb hotel room in the swanky 8th district in Paris, leaving the world to wonder if the Pink Panthers are behind the heist.
Two armed men dressed as police officers kicked in the door of her Paris apartment early Monday morning, bound and gagged her and forced her into the bathtub. According to the French media, the robbery could be the handiwork of the Pink Panthers. They too escaped on bicycles. How very Parisian.
Although Kim Kardashian was physically left unhurt, the thieves got away with her 15 carat Lorraine Schwartz diamond engagement ring, estimated to be worth $4.5 million dollars as well as other jewellery on loan to the celeb during Paris fashion week. Kim has been accused of flaunting her diamonds on Instagram and Snapchat recently, which some believe attributed to the thieves knowing her whereabouts and the worth in diamonds she had with her.
Do you think social media got Kim K into a whole lot of trouble?
We’ll keep you updated.