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Pink Panther Jewel Thief Milan Poparic Breaks Out of Swiss Prison

Image: Pink Panther Jewel Thief Milan Poparic Breaks Out of Swiss Prison Milan Poparic, right, and fellow escapee Adrian Albrecht.

Monday, 29 Jul 2013 01:02 PM

By Clyde Hughes

A jewel thief connected to an international gang dubbed the Pink Panthers escaped from a Swiss prison last week, sparking a multi-country manhunt.

Milan Poparic, a Bosnian national, serving time for his role in a 2009 robbery, and another inmate broke out of the prison in Orbe, Switzerland on Thursday, according to BBC News.

The thieves, many from the former country of Yugoslavia, got their name after British police found a diamond ring in a tub of face cream, reminiscent of a scene in the 1963 comedy film "The Pink Panther." Authorities told the Tribune de Geneve that they thought the Pink Panthers were behind the breakout, wrote BBC News.

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The Daily Mail reported that Poparic, 34, is the third Pink Panther member to break out of prison in recent months.

Poparic had been serving a sentence of six years and eight months for robbing a jewelry store in Neuchatel, Switzerland, in 2009 when the jailbreak occurred. He escaped with Adrian Albrecht, 52, according to the Daily Mail, who was serving a seven-year prison sentence for various crimes including robbery, arson, and money laundering.

Outside accomplices, under a hail of gunfire, rammed the prison compound with two vehicles, clearing away barbed wire, and threw a ladder over allowing the men to escape, the Daily Mail wrote. Authorities from Switzerland and France, some using police dogs, started a search for them.

At a news conference Friday, Beatrice Metraux, head of the department that includes responsibility for prisons in Switzerland, said the escapees had not received any visits in recent months other than from their lawyers.

"This is an invasion, rather than an escape, orchestrated by a heavily armed organized gang," Metraux said in the conference, according to the Daily Mail.

The Pink Panthers have netted more than $436 million since 1999, targeting luxury watches and jewelry stores in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, the Daily Mail said it gathered from Interpol reports.

In mid-May, two members of the Pink Panthers escaped from the Bois-Mermet prison along with three others.

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