Following 'Pink Panther', this week Europol organized, together with Austria and Switzerland, the first international conference on jewelry robbery and burglary under a new umbrella project entitled ‘Diamond’. Hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the event brought together more than 70 experts from almost all EU Member States, as well as third parties from Europe, Asia, the Americas, Eurojust and private jewelry/watch companies. ‘Diamond’ was initially composed as a follow-up project to Interpol’s ‘Pink Panther’ project, which ended in 2016. The ‘Pink Panther’ project focused only on robberies committed by perpetrators from the Western Balkans. Diamond, however, will even extend its focus, which will not only include criminal networks involved in jewelry robberies, including burglaries, from Europe but also from the Baltic Sea and Western Black Sea areas.
Europol’s Head of Serious and Organised Crime, Michael Rauschenbach, highlighted: “Criminals are becoming more inventive, as well as using technology to their advantage to carry out the most daring robberies and burglaries, as we have seen in the case of the ‘Pink Panther thieves’. Europol is committed to staying one step ahead of them by capitalising on our resources to ensure that their deeds do not go unpunished. Our success also depends on inter-agency cooperation and we are pleased that we could bring together so many experts from Europe and beyond to serve one common purpose – making Europe a safer place for the benefit of our citizens.” Currently, the EU is facing a returning trend in jewelry robbery and burglary. Individuals from South America, in particular, have been travelling to Europe to rob jewelry stores. The new trend in this area is that criminals are becoming more violent and using heavy vehicles to drive into jewellery stores. This modus operandi is of great concern for Europol, as it could endanger the life of customers and staff members present in the stores.
Project ‘Pink Panther’ was initiated by Interpol in 2007 to help law enforcement across the globe apprehend members of the Pink Panthers international network of jewellery thieves, originating from the Western Balkans. Between 1999 and 2015 the criminals are thought to have carried out approximately 380 armed robberies, valued at EUR 334 million (US$354 million), targeting high-end jewelry stores like, say ... Harry Winston.