Cyprus Mail

Possible ‘Pink Panther’ member remanded

File photo

A Lithuanian man, 37, suspected to be a member of an international gang, was remanded for eight days Thursday after genetic material linked him to an armed robbery carried out five years ago, at a jewellery shop in Limassol.

According to police, during an investigation into a recent burglary in the Germasogeia area, genetic material collected from the 37-year-old, matched that found at the scene of the armed robbery in which expensive watches and jewellery, valued at around a million euros, were taken.

The suspect, a member of a cleaning crew working in the area where a home was recently burgled, was summoned along with other workers to give genetic material and fingerprints.

They were all released as nothing incriminating was found against them but a few days later, the genetic material of the Lithuanian was matched to that found at the jewellers, leading to his arrest.

The 37-year-old denies any involvement, saying he never visited the shop in question, which is also situated in the Germasogeia area. Detectives however, are not ruling out the possibility he is a member of the notorious international gang of thieves nicknamed the ‘Pink Panthers’ suspected of carrying out the heist.

The four perpetrators of the robbery entered the shop through a secured area, one of them wearing a suit and posing as a customer, the other three barging through wearing hoods once the door was opened. The owner’s father and two employees were overpowered under the threat of a gun and bats.

Having smashed the glass display cases, the robbers took watches and jewellery. The owner’s father tried to stop them, managing to retrieve some of the stolen goods, and removing the hood one of them was wearing. The attackers fled the scene after punching the man.

A replica pistol dropped during their escape was also recovered.

Interpol estimates the number of members of the ‘Pink Panthers’ at several hundred thieves, mainly from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Other sources say the gang is made up of sixty or so members, half of which are thought to come from Montenegro.

Many members are said to be former soldiers with violent backgrounds. They are fluent in different languages and have been found to carry genuine passports issued to other people.

In a space of six years this century, the Pink Panthers robbed some 120 shops in twenty different countries, with businesses in Japan, London, Denmark, Monaco, Paris, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States targeted by the gang.

Their success rate has been put down to their attention to detail. Before robbing a Biarritz jewellers, the group freshly painted a nearby bench to stop anyone from using it and seeing them at work.

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