Clandestine societies have existed for centuries, conducting their business behind the scenes of the public eye. One of these societies is the Pink Panthers – a secret group of elite thieves that originate from the Eastern European countries of Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia.
The Pink Panthers are a gang of jewel thieves responsible for some of the most glamorous armed robberies in history. Criminologists even refer to their bold style and intricate planning as artistry. They have targeted various countries, and have Japan’s most successful robbery on their theft resume. Within a span of six years during the 21st century, the Pink Panthers have burglarized 120 stores in twenty different countries
In 1993, the gang gained prominence when they stole an $800,000 diamond from a jeweler in London. The name "Pink Panther" was awarded to the thieves by Interpol after they hid the diamond in a jar of face cream resembling an act from the film: “Return of the Pink Panther.” Their attention to detail and efficient execution of their plans is the reason behind their high success rate. For example, before a heist in Biarritz, the gang coated a bench adjacent to the jewelry store in fresh paint to deter people from sitting on – a clever way to keep away potential witnesses to the heist.
Although the Pink Panthers are not only known for their successful rate of robberies. They have also been notarized for their daring break-ins as well as their creative escapes. For example, in St. Tropez they burglarized a store dressed in flowery shirts and then escaped on a speed boat. In another one high-profile heist, the gang drove a pair of stolen limousines through a window into a Dubai mall, taking watches and other valuables worth over $12.5 million.
In another robbery, they dressed up as women and stole over $100 million worth of jewelry from a Harry Winston store in Paris, using Mission Impossible-style prosthetic make-up as a disguise. The most interesting feature of the Pink Panthers is that they do not use weapons. Many of their heists are below 45 seconds, and are done without the use of guns – this leaves the civilians around them untouched. This is truly a considerate group of thieves: why hurt anyone that has nothing to do with the heist?
The Pink Panthers are such a secretive group of thieves that only continues to expand throughout Eastern Europe and make record breaking heists. Although several gang members have been imprisoned, the identity of the majority of the members still remains questionary. Interpol is having trouble dealing with the organization.
How can you catch someone that you do not know really exists? The alleged leader of the gang, Dragan Mikic, was arrested in the early 2000's. However, in true Pink Panther fashion Dragan escaped from prison in 2005. He scaled a rope ladder while Pink Panthers fired machine guns at the prison wall. Thus, Dragan completed a successful escape. He has been on the run ever since.
The group is thought to consist of over two hundred members. Therefore, it is safe to say that a majority of their heists have been successful and many of the members have simply gotten away with their crimes. Their total haul is believed to be in the billions of dollars.