The NYT reports that the gang of well dressed men in drag responsible for the heist at Harry's in Paris are part of a larger network of Serbian jewel thieves referred to by international authorities as the Pink Panthers. This pop culture reference seems to show how intrigued the police are by this gang rather than (we hope) as a metaphor for their own police investigations. At the heart of the Pink Panther movies is Inspector Clouseau a bumbling French simpleton of a cop played most famously by Peter Sellers. Two tibdits: the pink panther of the movie title is actually a diamond containing a flaw which forms the image of a "leaping panther;" and Inspector Clouseau is repeatedly perplexed by transvestites, to the extent that he addresses them as "Sir or Madam." Coincidence?
The real gang of thieves has a penchant for the dramatic. In addition to impersonating Guns n' Roses, they crashed two Audi sedans through the glass of a Dubai shop as a means to a successful burgle. Investigators believe there are about 200 members in the group — linked by village and blood — and they blame the group for scooping up jewels worth more than $132 million in bold robberies in Switzerland, Japan, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Dubai, Spain and Monaco. The Panthers purportedly live all over Europe, with some working in mundane jobs as hospital cleaners our perhaps simple houseboys like Clouseau's Cato Fong, waiting to be summoned for the next discount flight to a foreign capital.