The Pink Panther Heist

Four men - three disguised as long blond-haired women with sunglasses - requested entry last December 4 to Harry Winston's Jewelers on super-posh Avenue Montaigne in Paris. As they were buzzed in, they pulled out a hand grenade and a .357 Magnum and started smashing the glass display cases. Fifteen minutes later they made a clean getaway in a waiting car with sacks of huge diamonds, emeralds and rubies worth a cool $115 million.

In a bizarre life-imitating-art scenario, Interpol has dubbed the suspected thieves the "Pink Panthers," referencing the phantom bandit of movie fame pursued by the comically jinxed Inspector Clouseau. The Pink Panthers are believed to be an international group, about 200 strong, of highly professional, meticulous and daring thieves. Hailing from Serbia, they are said to be responsible for high-profile heists worth more than $132 million at luxury "soft" targets in Dubai, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Spain and Monaco since 2003. Dusko Poznan and Goran Drazic, purported members of the group, were arrested before the Dec. 4 robbery. Lloyds of London, Winston's insurers, have issued a $1 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the jewels.

This was not the Pink Panthers' first heist. In Dubai last year, members of the group allegedly rammed through Graff's in two Audis, grasping $3.4 million in diamonds and exiting in the same cars. The event, captured on video, became a YouTube favorite with over 200,000 hits. In Graff's Tokyo, the Pink Panthers hit previously in 2004. In three minutes, they made off with $38 million in rare yellow diamonds, including a 125 carat necklace, the Comtesse de Vendome, worth $31.5 million, also captured on video.

The modus operandi of the Pink Panthers is "brazen, very fast, very well-organized," according to police sources. They characteristically case the targeted venues for a week or more, even learning the salespersons' names.

The bane of jewelers, the jewel thief, at times may achieve a colorful notoriety, earning a "treasured" spot in the pantheon of scoundrels. Movies glorify their cunning, daring and high-profile glamorous targets. Combining danger, fabulous jewels and meticulous execution, their heists are the stuff of legend. In a Bonnie and Clyde scenario, the thieves may become celebrated, even glorified. Boban Stojkovic, a member of the Pink Panthers cadre sentenced before the December 4 robbery, is described by his attorney as a "gentleman bandit... extremely polite and nice."

"Because that's where the money is," Willy Sutton, the thief, famously replied to the query "Why do you rob banks?" Jewelry stores are similarly natural targets. Jewelers take note. You can never be too careful. Although the Pink Panthers target the highest echelon of international targets, stores profiling coveted luxury items are always at risk. Closer to home, in Palm Beach this January Lee Havens Fine Jewelry on Worth Avenue was victimized - the robber reportedly escaping with $4 million in merchandise.

The December Harry Winston theft was the second burglary at the Paris store in a year. The previous year's heist netted over $13 million in jewels. The beleaguered jeweler seems to have adopted a note of caution. Immediately after the current robbery, passers-by the celebrated shop, now closed with shutters, viewed in its famed display case, rather than jewels, a large photograph of the missing pieces.

Mia Katrin is an award-winning, internationally celebrated couture jewelry designer, specializing in one-of-a-kind and limited edition high-end necklaces with precious gems in 18-24 karat gold and platinum. Her Collections, which have been worn by A-List Hollywood celebrities, are featured in many top galleries and stores throughout the country, where she regularly hosts Trunk Shows. Contact Mia via her website,, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (877) JEWEL-MY.


The Demonstration

This month we will examine the process of showing and demonstrating merchandise. The demonstration phase is your first opportunity to show your customer the features and...


Sales Growth Expert: Open your eyes wide - PLEASE - and sell me Add-Ons

Plus how to sell Add-Ons

Do not miss the opportunities to make money on products and services that enhance my use of the things I buy from you. Items and services that mak...

The Retailer’s Perspective: Will it be fine in 2009?

Man, if that's not the question of the day... or the century for that matter. With so much bad news being thrown at us every day it's hard to get a handle on things - unt...

The silver lining to the 2008 holiday season

You've heard the news. You've seen the stats. The 2008 holiday retail season will go down as one of the worst in three decades. With a 2.8% decline in sales, according to...


Houston Jewelry recipient of 2008 Texas Treasure Business Award

Houston Jewelry recipient of 2008 Texas Treasure Business Award

Texans say everything is bigger and better in their state, and Houston Jewelry is no exception. Considered a state landmark of business, the store is owned and operated b...


Rebecca Shemwell’s Quilted with Love stretches across the world

Rebecca Shemwell’s Quilted with Love stretches across the world

Six years ago Rebecca Shemwell had an epiphany. While traveling abroad on business for Tracy Pearls, Inc., images of children in need deeply touched her. From orphans to ...

Internet Marketing Strategies: The power of Viral Video

In an earlier column, I wrote about using online video as an effective yet inexpensive method to market your store. This past Christmas Season we saw one jewelry company...

The Needs Assessment: Open-ended questions

In the previous article we started discussing the topic of "The Needs Assessment" and how important asking questions is to the overall success of the selling process. Add...
Page 64 of 70

Facebook Share

Share this article on Facebook

Hot topic


Metallix Refining launches advanced precious metals recycling technology

Precious metals refinery, Metallix Refining Inc., has announced the launch of their new an...


GIA expands Retailer Support Program

(CARLSBAD, Calif.) - GIA (Gemological Institute of America) has recently announced some ne...

Media Kit



Download now! pdf-logo