Austrian police arrest four 'Pink Panther' jewel thieves

Austrian police arrest four 'Pink Panther' jewel thieves

Austrian police announced Tuesday they had arrested two Israelis, as well as a Serbian and a Belgian suspected of belonging to the notorious international "Pink Panther" group of jewel thieves.

The four men, aged between 35 and 40, were arrested last Thursday in a Vienna hotel and jewellery and watches worth about 500,000 euros (S$766,000), as well as about 57,000 euros in cash were seized, police said.

"This is the first time we've managed in Austria to crack a Pink Panther redistribution operation and identify and arrest the suspects," Ewald Ebner from the criminal police said at a press conference.

The seized loot included 18 luxury watches - including one valued at about 53,000 euros - that were stolen in January from a jewellery shop in Montreux, Switzerland.

The Serbian had apparently travelled to the Austrian capital from Belgrade to meet with the other three suspects. Police stepped in after money changed hands at the Vienna hotel where they also found the loot.

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

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