Police in Greece announced on Thursday the dismantling of the “Pink Panthers” international criminal gang that is suspected of an armed robbery at a Rolex jewelry store in Athens in December.
On December 20, 2022, “Pink Panthers” stole 24 luxury watches, with a total value of approximately 135,000 euros from a Rolex store on Kolokotroni Street, off Stadiou Street in the center of the Greek capital.
Police say they identified five suspects as members of the gang, four foreign nationals and one Greek. Two of the suspects are in custody facing charges of creating a criminal organization, robbery, aggravated theft by complicity as well as violation of weapons legislation.
The police investigation was aided by foreign police forces which have not been named.
It emerged from the investigation that the gang operated in a similar fashion to groups associated with organized crime in the Balkans, where the “Pink Panthers” have been particularly active.
Pink Panthers target jewelry stores and Rolex stores
These gangs target jewelry stores, where they commit robberies using the “smash and grab” method or the “ram and raid” method.
They operate in a “professional” manner, having as their leader a person with a lot of experience in the specific activity. They move around with forged or falsified documents and they use surveillance tactics at the store they have targeted, even several days before the “hit”.
The Pink Panthers gained notoriety in 2003. Whilst the group was believed to exist beforehand, it first achieved mainstream attention in 2003 during a heist at the London Graff.
After police trailed them, they found jewelry hidden in a jar of skin cream. The circumstances were a carbon copy visual from a scene in the Pink Panther films of the 1960s. The name, along with the group’s mystique, was born.
The Pink Panthers were formed out of the highly corrupt Serbian state in the 1990s. This fostered their membership of highly skilled career criminals.
Numbers are rumored to be anywhere from roughly 40 core members to around 800 overall (including affiliates). Interpol believes that there are at least 60 core members with associates running in the hundreds.