The Pink Panthers are a gang of international jewel thieves who, quite frankly, make everyone else on this list look like a big pile of shit. The group is made up of anywhere from 60 to several hundred members, and they have stolen -- get this -- as much as $500 million in diamonds and other valuable gemstones over the past two decades.
They first showed up on the scene in 1993, swiping an $800,000 diamond from a jeweler in London and hiding it in a jar of face cream (this earned them the nickname "the Pink Panthers" from the police, because the same trick had been used in The Return of the Pink Panther). Their heists range from cunning tasks of deception (in one case, they coated nearby benches with fresh paint to prevent anyone from sitting down and becoming potential witnesses) to balls-out smash-and-grab runs (in another case, they drove a pair of limousines through a jewelry store window and stole everything in reach).
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
But not before putting on their prom dresses and drunkenly screaming out the sunroof.
All told, Interpol has linked the Pink Panthers to robberies in over 100 stores in 20 countries around the world, from Dubai to Japan to the United States. They have a pool of legitimate passports that they trade back and forth, they speak numerous languages, and many of them are suspected to be heavily armed ex-soldiers from Eastern Europe, otherwise known as the Land Where Not a Single Fuck Is Given.
The group has fallen off the radar for the past few years, with small handfuls of members being arrested here and there, but re-emerged in a big way this past year. First, three Pink Panthers escaped from Swiss prisons over the summer, with the last escapee, Milan Poparic, busting loose in grand fashion. Two accomplices (most likely Pink Panthers themselves) crashed two big trucks through the prison's front gate and drove all the way up to the exercise yard, blasting AK-47s at the guards to keep them pinned down while they leaned a ladder against the fence for Poparic to climb over. Then they simply drove off, like they'd just pulled over to the side of the road to pick up an old couch from somebody's front yard on their way to Food Lion.
Later that same week, during the Cannes Film Festival, one of the Pink Panthers strolled into the Carlton International Hotel on the French Riviera with nothing but a face-obscuring scarf and a handgun and robbed a hotel room of $136 million worth of diamonds, gemstones, and watches. The valuables were being stored in preparation for a sale exhibit, because the Cannes Film Festival is like a bug lamp for rich people, but apparently nobody felt the private security team guarding the diamonds needed to be armed, because they totally weren't.
Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Stop! ... please?
Police have yet to make any arrests or recover any of the stolen property, but the fact that the most expensive jewelry heist in history took place a few days after one of the Pink Panthers broke out of prison in a Michael Mann-esque storm of gunfire and bravado probably narrows down their list of suspects a bit.
Follow Jacopo on Twitter and pre-order his upcoming novel, The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy! Will wrote a book called Infernal Machines, which you can find out more about here. Follow him on Twitter or Tumblr.
There's a good chance your grandparents hate your guts, but why? Don't they know your generation might actually turn things around? In our latest podcast, David Wong joins Jack O'Brien to discuss millennials and the bum rap they get. You can download it here and subscribe to it on iTunes here.
Related Reading: Ready for heists that put Oceans 11 to shame? Click here and learn about the man who burgled the Louvre for patriotism. Sometimes the simplest heists are the best heists, as this thief who randomly chose to steal a $4 million painting can attest. If you're more a fan of mystery, read up on these crimes with endless unanswered questions.