Guardia Civil and Policia Nacional say they have arrested two members of the infamous international gang known as the ‘Pink Panthers’. The detainees are accused of the robbery last week at a jewellery store in Meloneras, on the south of Gran Canaria, in one of the most prestigious tourist resorts in Maspalomas.
According to sources close to the investigation, one of the arrests was made at Gran Canaria airport, while the second took place in the tourist area of Playa del Inglés.
Additionally, they have searched a house in the area of El Tablero, not far from the scene in Maspalomas, in the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, where several watches matching the ones stolen have been seized.
It is not yet clear why it is Police think the men arrested are part of the Pink Panther group, an infamous gang of thieves made famous for their audacious and precision timed raids on jewellery stores around the world.
It is thought there could be more than sixty members to the gang operating internationally, many of whom have eastern European military backgrounds. Some estimates even suggest more than 100 members.
Committing jewellery thefts for more than two decades the core group is said to be made up of ex-Yugoslav citizens, from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, and they have been credited with some of the most audacious thefts in criminal history.
They have been credited with thefts in Dubai, Japan, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein amongst many others.
The first acknowledged theft by the group was in 1993 whan a half-million pound diamond was hidden in a jar of face cream, mimicking a scene from the popular Peter Sellers movie Return of The Pink Panther
The two men of foreign nationality, were arrested today in Gran Canaria as one of them tried to catch a flight with some of the loot.
The investigators suspect that the men are two robbers of Serbian nationality, that may be related to the Pink Panthers, who specialise in jewellery store heists.
Last Tuesday two assailants entered a Meloneras jeweller’s shop, threatened the security guard and in less than four minutes smashed several display cases, taking numerous luxury watches and some jewellery in a robbery that some tourists recorded on video with their mobile phones.
If it were the Pink Panthers, as is suspected, the security forces can now register their second success on Gran Canaria, in responding to this dangerous criminal gang.
In November 2015, two members of the Serbian Pink Panthers were arrested by the Guardia Civil on Gran Canaria when they tried to leave the island with items stolen a month earlier in a jewellery shop in Morro Jable (south Fuerteventura): Luxury watches valued at one million euros.
That operation was especially relevant for the security forces because it was the first time they had arrested members of the Pink Panthers in Spain for a robbery within Spansh territory (in 2007 they had arrested a robber involved in a high profile heist committed in Dubai)
The question is, will the Pink Panthers see Gran Canaria as a challenge, or to be best avoided. We’ll bring you more info as we get it…