• Austria's news in English

'Pink Panther' fences arrested in Vienna

The Local · 10 Feb 2015, 12:26

Published: 10 Feb 2015 12:26 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The four men (aged between 35 and 40) were arrested in a Vienna hotel with €500,000 worth of luxury watches and jewellery which had been stolen in a robbery in Montreux, Switzerland on January 15th.

They are not thought to have carried out the robbery themselves, but acted as the receivers of the stolen goods, and were planning to sell the watches to wealthy clients. 

"This is the first time in Austria that we have managed to identify and arrest members of the Pink Panthers redistribution channel," Ewald Ebner from the Federal Criminal Police Office said at a press conference. 

Police got a tip-off that a courier from Serbia was travelling to Vienna in order to buy luxury watches. After he crossed the border into Austria police put him under surveillance and he was observed meeting up with a Vienna-based Israeli man in the city's 2nd district, who drove him to a hotel. 

After money had changed hands and the Serb emerged from the hotel with €57,000 in cash police swooped and arrested him, along with two Israelis who are resident in Belgium and had been involved in the sale of the watches.

In the hotel room police found a 37-year-old Israeli man carrying a suitcase with a false bottom which contained 25 watches. One of the watches was valued at about €53,000. 

Ebner said that the men were "uncooperative" when they were arrested and pretended they knew nothing about the seized loot. If found guilty of handling stolen goods the men could face between six months and five years in prison. 

The operation was carried out in cooperation with Belgian, German, Serbian and Swiss police.

The Pink Panthers gang is known for lightning-fast armed robberies targeting high-end jewellery stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

They are believed to have carried out robberies worth in excess of €500 million since 1999. 

Many gang members are known to originate from the former Yugoslavia, but they work across countries and continents. The Pink Panthers have been responsible for several robberies in Austria.

In October, a member of the Pink Panthers was released early from prison in Austria, after an embarrassing gaffe caused by a computer error.

On Tuesday, there was an armed robbery by three men on a jewellery store in Graz, however there is no suggestion at this stage that the culprits are linked to the Pink Panthers.  

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

Austria 'horror clown' attacks leave several injured
Clown performers are not happy about the negative media stories. Photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

Several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants dressed as 'creepy clowns' in the lead-up to Halloween.

Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available