Early Monday morning, five armed men disguised as police officers broke into Kim Kardashian's hotel room in Paris, held her at gunpoint, and stole over $11 million of jewelry. Few criminals have the wherewithal to pull off a heist like that and leave no trail, so it's already rumored that the infamous Pink Panthers were behind the robbery.
The Pink Panthers are a notorious network of jewel thieves. The group was formed over three decades ago, and is said to be made up of close to 200 men and women, mostly Serbians and Montenegrins. According to law enforcement agencies they have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars worth of jewelry from different locations around the world.
The thieves are known for their smash-and-grab technique, in which they enter a store by any means necessary (like driving a car through the window of the Graff boutique in Dubai) and take as much jewelry as they can before running off.
Here are some of their most renowned heists.
This robbery gave the group their name. A man entered the Graff store on New Bond Street posing as a customer, asked to see some jewelry, then took out a gun. An accomplice then entered, and the two of them grabbed 47 pieces of jewelry worth over $30 million and fled. While Scotland Yard was investigating the crime, a detective found a blue diamond ring from Graff hidden in a jar of face cream in one of the thieve's homes, echoing a plot line from the 1975 film The Return of the Pink Panther.
In the biggest jewelry heist in Japanese history, armed robbers stole the famous Comtesse de Vendôme necklace, worth over $30 million, from the boutique where it was on display. In less then a minute, they entered the boutique, disabled the security system, smashed the display case, and ran off with the necklace.
Two Audi cars smashed through the glass walls of the Wafi Mall and drove straight to the Graff store, where they broke the doors. Two men ran into the store armed with guns and axes, and broke the display cases. 170 seconds later, they got back into their cars with over $3 million of stolen jewelry and drove away.
Two men altered their appearance using prosthetics and entered the Graff store on New Bond Street posing as customers (once again!). They took out handguns, forced the staff to open the display cases, and fled with 43 pieces of jewelry worth over $50 million. At the time it was the largest jewelry heist to ever take place in Britain.
An armed thief entered a private salon at the Hotel Carlton, where the Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev was displaying his collection of jewelry. In less than 30 seconds he made off with close to 72 pieces, worth over $100 million. It is the largest heist that has ever taken place in France, and possibly the world.
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