Interpol closing in on 'Pink Panther' jewel thieves

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share

Interpol is closing in on an international jewel thief network dubbed the "Pink Panthers" in an investigation linking 19 countries that highlights the need for police sharing of DNA data, its leader said on Thursday.

Ronald Noble said DNA links between crime scenes were among the clues that led police to the realisation that jewel heists over the past nine years from Tokyo to Dubai to the tiny European principality of Liechtenstein were all the work of a loosely organised group of around 200 people.

"Over the last nine years, this organised crime group originating in Serbia and Montenegro was responsible for at least 90 armed jewellery store robberies in 19 countries for over 100 million euros ($153.9 million)," Noble said in a telephone interview.

"The robberies would take less than a minute to steal anywhere from 2 million to 25 million euros worth of jewellery."

Noble was speaking from Tokyo after briefing G8 justice and interior ministers on the case in order to illustrate the need to beef up international crime-fighting databases and use them more actively.

One of the key breaks in the case was taking DNA samples from Dubai, where robbers had crashed a car into a jewellery store, and matching these to traces recovered in Liechtenstein. Further investigation uncovered the links to Japan and other cases across Europe.

"What it shows you is these guys can move all the way around the globe," Noble said. "So sharing information, consulting global databases is the way to link these 21st century organised crime groups that move freely from country to country."

Since taking over as secretary-general of Interpol in 2000, the American has led a relentless campaign to get police forces all around the world to make greater use of its databases, especially to detect criminals travelling on stolen passports.

Within a year or two, he wants to expand Interpol's "extraordinarily small" fingerprint database from 75,000 entries to millions - Mexico alone plans to add up to two million.

Countries that trust each other will also be able to use Interpol as a "gateway" to allow mutual access to each other's national fingerprint databases, something that G8 countries are already doing for DNA samples.

Civil rights groups have expressed concern about the mass storage of DNA profiles, but Noble said Interpol would only hold such data on an anonymous basis.

That would enable countries to submit unidentified DNA traces as a means of establishing links to crime scenes elsewhere and then pursuing joint investigations, exactly as in the Pink Panther case.

Noble said Interpol's work had led to about five arrests on that case since last year, including one in France within the past couple of weeks. But the Pink Panther ring was far from being smashed.

"It's not like a traditional organised crime group where you have a head and a number two and a number three and you can say 'I've smashed the ring because we've taken out the leadership'. Here it's much more fluid," Noble said.

"This is going to be a long, ongoing investigation to identify these people, locate them and actually arrest them." (Reuters)

Related:
Companies
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Louie Tedesco

Pity the poor criminals - 200 of them, sharing a paltry $100 million euros over nine years, where the market value of stolen jewellery is a fraction of this amount . Even at the full amount, this equates to a "gross salary" of 55,555 euros per year, "earned" mostly during a time when the euro was valued at less than $1. Deduct the cost of airfare, travel and other criminal expenses and it really is true that crime doesn't pay! A cost comparison of the 1000 global police officers working this case for nine years would be interesting?!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Dubai's nightlife bubble: When is it going to burst?

Dubai's nightlife bubble: When is it going to burst?

A new breed of clubs and bars is sprouting in the city, but which...

12
Chocolate: worth its weight in gold?

Chocolate: worth its weight in gold?

Middle Eastern consumers with a sweet tooth are buying up ever...

Country focus: Lebanon’s start-up success

Country focus: Lebanon’s start-up success

A new-wave of entrepreneurship is helping Lebanon become a hot...

Most Discussed
  • 54
    Three UAE women attacked with hammer at London hotel

    I really feel that Arabian Business.Com should now close this comments page. This should be all about sympathy for the families not what it is/has turned... more

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 1:06 PM - Adrienne
  • 51
    Why Dubai isn't a plastic city

    What is definitely not a plastic city. The Arabs have a culture dating back to several centuries. 50 years back Dubai was just a fishing village. Today... more

    Tuesday, 8 April 2014 3:49 PM - P. MADHUSUDAN
  • 48
    DMCC boss Ahmed Bin Sulayem entertains Robert Mugabe in Dubai

    @fga ''However today, simply because he decided to dispossess a few white farmers of their land and redistribute to the poorer indigenous blacks'' more

    Sunday, 13 April 2014 3:02 PM - Matt Williams