Who Are The Pink Panthers? One Kim Kardashian's Robbery Conspiracy Theory Is Tied To This Jewel Thief Network
Ever since Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint on Sunday in Paris, France, there have been all kinds of theories about what actually happened and the identity of the thieves who stole over $10 million worth of jewelry from her. One particular theory is that the Pink Panthers are to blame for Kardashian's robbery. Before you think it or ask it, I am not referring to the cartoon character or the reboot movie that starred Beyoncé. So exactly who are the Pink Panthers? Well, like something out of a spy movie, they are essentially a jewelry gang who have pulled off all kinds of heists.
TIME describes them as "a network of jewel thieves from the Balkan countries whose raids have targeted the most valuable gems on the planet." According to TIME, the group is actually named after 1963's The Pink Panther starring David Niven, Robert Wagner, Peter Sellers, and Capucine. In July 2013, NPR reported that the group's name came to be after in 2003 police found a diamond ring hidden in a jar of face cream like a scene from the original film.
As detailed by Interpol's official website, the Pink Panthers have reportedly pulled off about 380 armed-heists from 1999 through 2015 and have stolen an estimated $372 million worth of gems. Interpol even had its own "Pink Panthers Project," which ran from 2007 until 2016. The project was responsible for identifying members of the Pink Panthers. It came to an end in 2016 after nine years. Rachael Billington, an Interpol spokeswoman, told TIME Tuesday, "The main aim was to create a network of officers who would investigate these crimes on a national level." That's exactly what they accomplished with individual police forces now having access to data regarding the Pink Panthers.
The network of armed robbers have committed some major crimes. For example, The Guardian reported in August 2013 that it was suspected one of the Pink Panther members walked into a Cannes Carlton International Hotel, where a diamond exhibition was being held, and walked out 60 seconds later with $138 million worth of stolen gems. According to The Guardian's 2013 report, Interpol believes the network of jewelry thieves consists of 200 thieves. Apparently, the Pink Panthers aren't afraid to bring attention to themselves, as The Guardian reports they once drove a pair of limousines through a Dubai jewelry store window, wore blonde wigs and scarves to rob a Paris Harry Winston store, and donned flowery T-shirts and got away with stolen goods on a speed-boat.
A documentary about the Pink Panthers titled Smash & Grab was released in 2013, and it also featured interviews with actual members for the first time, but voiced by actors. One particular member said (via NPR), "We are a network of teams working together. Everybody has their specific job to do. So we all depend on each other." Another member said, "When you open a safe and you see it's a full, full safe, that's a feeling — it's like a feeling you might faint any moment. I love that."
Despite getting away with millions of dollars worth of gems and jewelry, alleged Pink Panthers members have been caught and arrested. This past August, NBC News reported that five suspected members were arrested in Barcelona after attempting to rob a jewelry store on the Passeig de Gracia avenue. Some of the members have also escaped from prison. In July 2013, CBS News reported that a Pink Panther member "escaped from a Swiss prison after accomplices rammed a gate and overpowered guards with bursts from their AK-47s." This marked the third Pink Panther member to escape from a Swiss prison.
At this point in time, it only remains a theory that the Pink Panthers are responsible for Kardashian's robbery.