There are some things that defy common sense. Then there are others which grab the elusive little git by the neck, put its head to the curb and make it taste the underside of their boot in one, mighty stomp.  

The Pink Panthers are one such existence.


Hailing primarily from the nations of the former Yugoslavian region like Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia, the core of the Panthers is composed of battle-hardened individuals with paramilitary training and their network consists of all kinds of experts from the fields of safe-cracking to jewel appraisal, numbering over 200 in all.

The Panthers aren’t just a gang of hoodlums or a ragtag group of criminals. They’re a guild of thieves- organized, efficient and well-networked.

This downright audacious gang of jewel thieves brings every elaborate heist movie to shame.


So how did they earn such a distinguished name?

In what can only be described as flipping the authorities a £500,000 bird, the gang of thieves hit Graff Jewelers on Bond Street, Central London in 2003. While the police weren’t wholly unsuccessful in catching the robbers, when they finally discovered the gem it was concealed in a bottle of face cream – a play taken straight from Peter Sellers ‘The Return of the Pink Panther’. 

It was this ‘homage’, so to speak, which earned them the name ‘Pink Panthers’.

  • In Tokyo 2004, less than a year later, they stole the Comtesse de Vendome, a diamoned necklace composed of 116 diamonds, (valued at $31 million) which has been dubbed the greatest robbery in the history of Japan.
  • In St. Tropez 2005, they made off with $3 million while posing as tourists. The streets were clogged with traffic so they decided to, in a move right out of a Bond film, make their escape via sea on a speedboat while the cops attempted to fruitlessly chase after them
  • In Dubai 2007, they drove two Audis through the glass windows of a jewelers in the Wafi Mall and cleared jewelry worth approximately $4 million in less than 180 seconds. They then made their getaway through a route while the police struggled to maneuver rush hour traffic, all part of their calculated plan.
  • The recent Hatton Garden Heist in 2015 and the Carlton Cannes Caper of 2013 are linked to the Panthers as well, though conclusive evidence is yet to be found.

And these are just the famous ones. In a career spanning over twenty years, right up from the early 90’s, the Panthers are held responsible for well over 380 elaborate heists and armed robberies from Geneva, London and Paris in Europe to Dubai in the Middle East and even as far as Tokyo in the Far East.

The total amount of wealth they’ve amassed over their long, elusive career is calculated somewhere in the ballpark of half a billion dollars.

On November 2015 Rajko Caušević, who is known to be the founder of the Panthers was arrested in Montenegro.  


But this is just a small hitch in the road for these brazen bandits, who continue to operate. In fact, some speculate that a new generation of Panthers has started operating as well, taking the place of their arrested comrades and retired veterans.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Panthers, a documentary called Smash & Grab was released in 2013 which features authentic interviews with former members. 

Or you can watch the six episode crime-drama-thriller, The Last Panthers

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