Spanish police have arrested two Serbian men who allegedly carried out a recent jewel heist, adding that the suspects are also believed to be part of the infamous “Pink Panther” organized retail crime network.
The two men were arrested at an apartment where police found the stolen valuables. Merchandise worth more than 1 million euro was recovered, allegedly stolen from a jewelry shop on the island of Fuerteventura as part of the retail theft operation, police said in a statement. Fuerteventura is one of the Canary Islands. At their residence, authorities also discovered evidence about other members of the “Pink Panthers” gang and issued European arrest warrants.
Based on available reports, three masked men with guns rushed into the store, immobilized staff members, and quickly made off with over 1 million euro ($1.1 million) in jewels and watches. The “perfectly prepared” heist lasted only a few minutes, according to the Civil Guard. The thieves then escaped in numerous rented speedboats, which were used to avoid detention. Police said the men planned on smuggling the loot out of the Canary Islands in false-bottomed suitcases or by wearing the items and claiming they were inexpensive Chinese copies.
The “Pink Panthers” are an organized retail crime network comprised of around 800 criminals whose members primarily stem from paramilitary circles in former Yugoslavia. Interpol suspects that they are behind more than 380 robberies at luxury stores in over 35 countries since 1999. The gang is known for pulling off spectacular and meticulously planned heists. Over the years, they have reportedly made off with over 330 million euro in valuables. Despite their sophisticated operations and smooth escape plans, many members have been arrested in recent years in France, Greece, Italy, Japan and Switzerland.
The group received the infamous name after British detectives found a diamond ring stowed in a jar of face cream, echoing an incident that appeared in Peter Sellers’ 1963 comedy film “The Pink Panther.”