'Pink Panther' jewel thief escapes prison

2013-07-26 16:17

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Switzerland
    A guide to one of the world's finest ski resorts, with personal introductions to the best runs,... Now R148.00
    buy now
Geneva — A member of the notorious "Pink Panther" jewel thief gang escaped from a Swiss prison after accomplices rammed a gate and overpowered guards with bursts from their AK-47s, police said on Friday.

Milan Poparic, aged 34, fled with fellow inmate Adrian Albrecht, aged 52, from the Orbe prison in the western canton (state) of Vaud late on Thursday, according to a police statement.

He is the third member of the Pink Panthers to escape from a Swiss prison in as many months, according to Vaud police.

Poparic, a Bosnian national, had been serving a sentence of six years and eight months for robbing a jewellery store in the Swiss city of Neuchatel in 2009. Albrecht was serving a seven-year prison sentence for various crimes including robbery, arson and money laundering.

Police said Poparic was part of the Pink Panthers network, prime suspects in a series of spectacular thefts. According to Interpol the group has targeted luxury watch and jewellery stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States, netting over $436m since 1999.

The two accomplices rammed the compound with two vehicles, clearing away barbed wire for the escape, then fled with the two escapees in one vehicle and set fire to the other. Teams of police and other authorities from Switzerland and France, some using police dogs, are searching for them.

No visits in recent months


At a news conference on Friday, Beatrice Metraux, head of Vaud's interior department that includes responsibility for prisons, said the guards were unarmed but were backed up by officers from the Swiss private security firm Protectas, who were equipped with "simple handguns" that were no match for the AK-47s.

She said the escapees hadn't received any visits in recent months other than from their lawyers.

"This is an invasion, rather than an escape, orchestrated by a heavily armed organised gang," she said, adding that the staff was shocked and one person was getting psychological counselling.

Vaud police spokesperson Jean-Christophe Sauterel said the vehicle remains missing, and it's not known which way they fled. It's still unclear, he added, whether the two accomplices are members of the Pink Panthers, although their actions suggest it.

Interpol dubbed them the Pink Panther gang, recalling the 1963 movie starring Peter Sellers as the bungling Inspector Clouseau, but it isn't known whether members themselves use that name. The gang is believed to have a core membership of about 40 people, many of them from the Balkans.

Sauterel said there doesn't appear to be any danger to the public, since killing isn't part of the Pink Panthers' usual methods. But, he added, the police are "dealing with people who were involved in the armed forces during the war in former Yugoslavia".

In mid-May, two members of the Pink Panthers — a 45-year-old Serb, who was being temporarily detained for aggravated robbery, and a 47-year-old Frenchman held for aggravated robbery and drug and weapons violations — escaped from the Bois-Mermet prison along with three others, helped by accomplices, the police said.

- AP
Read more on:    switzerland
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are in a curious mood and you want to be the first to know what is happening. You may find yourself drawn into cyber chatting...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.