One of Britain’s biggest jewellery heists is believed to have been carried out with help from a highly organised international conglomerate of jewellery thieves that sound like something we made up for one of our escape rooms. In fact, the diamond heist in our game Loot the Lanes isn’t as elaborate as some of their schemes. The group were dubbed The Pink Panthers (for obvious reasons) by the Daily Mail and in 2009, they were likely behind a robbery at Graff Diamonds on New Bond Street where nearly £40million worth of jewellery was stolen and never recovered.
Who are the Pink Panthers?
Due to the nature of the organisation, it is impossible to say exactly how many people are part of the Pink Panther network but it’s believed to be around 800 spread all across mostly former Yugoslavian countries. They are notorious for pulling off some of the most outrageous jewellery thefts of all time and using their network of operatives to recut and rework the jewels and jewellery they steal. While various members of the network have been sent to prison over the years, many got away with their crimes and disappeared to live quiet lives afterwards. Many members are believed to have military and paramilitary backgrounds and have used these skills to carry out these audacious robberies.
The use of disguises, theatrics and the sheer drama of some of their robberies is what has caused The Pink Panthers to be so famous. They are also masters when it comes to attention to detail (something our games designers would admire them for!). Until recently, no one had been hurt during their heists due to them taking measures like painting a bench near a jewellers they were planning to rob to stop people sitting on it and they timed one of their smash and grab ram raids at such a time that they knew the police would get caught in traffic getting there but their getaway cars wouldn’t getting away. Other methods have included escaping in a speedboat and dressing up as women to perform their thievery.
The Graff Robbery
One of their most memorable heists was the 2009 robbery of Graff Diamonds in London. Using a professional make up company, who thought they were making them up for a music video, they totally changed their appearances before walking into the jewellers and robbing it using concealed handguns. A necklace they stole was worth £3.5million all by itself but it was just one of 43 pieces of jewellery they took. They used 3 different getaway cars to make their escape but it was during these change overs that their legendary attention to detail failed. One of the men left a mobile phone in one of the cars which ultimately lead to their identification and arrest. The man who orchestrated the robbery was sentenced to 23 years in prison while a total of 10 men were arrested in connection with it.
While the antics of The Pink Panthers seem to have been largely curbed by better law enforcement in former Yugoslavian countries, they still operate but on a far less elaborate and successful scale. For a far less dangerous and totally legal way of feeling like a notorious diamond thief, come and play our award winning diamond heist escape room game, Loot the Lanes. It certainly requires a lot of smarts and a good attention to detail but not so much of the paramilitary training. To find out more about Loot the Lanes or to book a game, call 01273 220388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.