The group is called the Pink Panthers; no, not the super sleuth actor Peter Sellers from the “Pink Panther” movies. These Pink Panthers are a diverse cartel of jewelry thieves from 16 countries including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Montenegro and Serbia.
According to authorities, these thieves have stolen more than $130 million worth of jewelry from Paris, Monaco, Geneva, Dubai and Tokyo. British investigators came up with the moniker after one suspect hid a $657, 000 blue diamond in a jar of cream, which is an exact scenario in one of the “Pink Panther” movies.
At a meeting in Monaco in March, the French police exchanged notes on a group of almost 200 men, the majority of which had military backgrounds, who had been spied surveying potential targets for jewelry heists. They were devising a plan to hopefully find clues to find a crack in these cases that have haunted them for years. Earlier this month, investigators would get their wish. One of the suspected member of the Pink Panthers and his alleged accomplice was apprehended in Paris earlier this month. They’re hoping Zoran Kostic, who has been wanted since 2003, and Nikola Ivanovic can shed some light into the notorious band of jet-setting jewelry thieves.
However, the French police say that Kostic and Ivanovic are keeping quiet. They consider Kostic a high ranking member of the Pink Panthers because they have connected him with more than 20 high-profile heists. For now, the duo have only admitted to a recent robbery in Lausanne, France. Commissioner of the organized crime unit in Paris Helene Dupif says the Pink Panthers are very violent, “these are men are really strong, who come in with handguns, order people to the ground and scream at them in a language they don’t understand,” she said.
About 40 men connected to the Pink Panther network have been arrested across the globe, but French police and Interpol are hoping this arrest will lead to the information they need to disband the group. They are also looking for information behind that infamous Harry Winston heist in Paris in December of last year, when four men, including three in drag, hit the store and left with $32 million dollars worth of jewelry in fifteen minutes. Now the tony jewelry store is more cautious, you can only get in if you have an appointment and there is a guard at the door.