Spanish authorities had detained Montenegro-born Rifat Hadziahmetovic while it expects to detain another Pink Panther, Radovan Jelusic, for being part of the “Pink Panthers”. Since 2009 Cyprus authorities had detained both thieves and then extradited Rifat Hadziahmetovic to Spain. Today, the Spanish government extradited Hadziahmetovic to a seething Japan that reportedly lost precious jewels worth billions of yen. Japanese authorities accuse Hadziahmetovic to be a jewel thief who was involved in the 2007 ’Tokyo heist’ that swiped nearly 300 million yen in the form of various gems and the 200 million yen diamond tiara.
Considered something of a reverent legend in the international underworld, the Pink Panthers are responsible for the ransacking of more than 120 luxury stores dealing in jewelry across the globe.
This large ‘gang’ of jewel thieves were dubbed the Pink Panther gang by British police in 1993 after it was discovered the Pink Panthers hid a stolen diamond ring in a container of face cream … a moment similar to a particular scene in the classic Pink Panther film. As years passed by, the hundreds of millions of euros and dollars accumulated naturally lured Interpol into chasing down the Pink Panthers.
In many cases, police whether in the United Arab Emirates or in Japan were baffled by the efficiency and quickness of the robberies and were even more surprised by the Pink Panthers’ thoughtful methods of escaping which included riding normal bicycles through heavy traffic, high-speed boats, cabs, and in a few cases, just running on feet. The only thing they seem to haven’t done is escape via helicopter or any other movie-like means.
While Interpol has had some success with the cooperation of more than 170 countries, most Pink Panthers remain elusive. The number of members vary from 60 to 100 in some reports, however it is widely believed that the international jewel bandits number approximately 200.
Interpol believes the latter and thinks most of the thieves come from the Balkans, namely the former Yugoslavia.
Interpol warns that while the thieves seldom use their weapons in robberies, each Pink Panther is considered to “be exremely dangerous”. Some members, Interpol believes, have a military past which makes the jewel thieves all the more deadlier in addition to the charges of homicide and drug trafficking sticking to the group’s name.