x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Police tighten snare on Pink Panther pair

Police say they're close to tracking down the last two suspects in the 2997 Wafi City jewellery heist.

DUBAI // Police are close to tracking down the last two suspects in the 2007 Wafi City jewellery heist, investigators said at the close of an international conference held to track down the Pink Panther gang.

Four years ago, seven men used stolen vehicles to drive into Wafi Mall and smash their way into House of Graff, escaping with diamonds worth Dh14.7 million.

The men were part of an international crime syndicate, known as the Pink Panther gang, thought to be responsible for the theft of more than Dh1.5 billion worth of gems in 90 robberies.

"The group is constantly changing its tactics to evade capture, but with new details we are closing in on them," said Lt Col Salem Al Rumaithi, deputy director of the criminal investigation department at Dubai Police.

This week Dubai Police investigators met with 76 fellow detectives from 26 countries at the fifth annual Pink Panther symposium, held at The Officers Club in Garhoud. The secretary general of Interpol, Richard Noble, was there, as were French and Swiss police and representatives of Europol, the European Union's detective force.

Local investigators say that studying the gang's latest tactics was the highlight of the meeting. Dubai Police say the exchanged of information - and continued international collaboration to combat and prevent organised crime - provided the missing pieces of the puzzle and arrests are imminent.

Detectives said crucial evidence had come to light during the conference, which would help trace the robbers, but did not provide further details for operational reasons.

In recent months, at least one member of the Pink Panther gang is arrested somewhere in the world every four weeks, according to Lt Col Al Rumaithi. Many of the suspects are from Serbia.

"This meeting with our colleagues is about how we can help each other prevent such crimes," he said. "We study how Pink Panther carries out these robberies, where stolen goods are hidden and new ways vehicles are stolen."

The first big heist with which the gangsters are credited was in London in 1993, when they stole a diamond worth £500,000 (Dh2.9m) by hiding it in a jar of face cream - a trick they appear to have lifted from a Pink Panther film.