Spanish police arrest 'Pink Panther' jewel thief suspect

Spanish police arresting a Serbian Borko Ilincic, 33, member of a gang of robbers known as the Pink Panthers in the suburbs of Madrid under an international arrest warrant for a multi-million-euro jewellery heist, authorities said on Feb 12, 2014. --
Spanish police arresting a Serbian Borko Ilincic, 33, member of a gang of robbers known as the Pink Panthers in the suburbs of Madrid under an international arrest warrant for a multi-million-euro jewellery heist, authorities said on Feb 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP/ SPANISH INTERIOR MINISTRY

MADRID (REUTERS) - Spanish police arrested a 33-year-old Serbian on Wednesday who they said was a member of the notorious 'Pink Panther' gang of jewel thieves.

Borko Ilincic, 33, was arrested in a Madrid suburb as he left a hotel in a rental car, police said, adding that he had been convicted for a 2007 heist in the United Arab Emirates and sentenced to life in jail.

The 'Pink Panther' gang, named after the Peter Sellers comedy crime movies, have staged about 340 robberies of luxury stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States (US) since 1999, making off with booty worth more than 330 million euros (S$572 million), according to Interpol.

In 2007, the gang drove two cars into a Dubai shopping mall and through the window of a jewellery store, sweeping millions of dollars worth of gems from displays, in a raid lasting less than a minute.

The following year, the gang stole jewellery worth up to 85 million euros after entering the Harry Winston jewellers in Paris disguised as women.

The gang got its nickname after a London robbery in 2003 when a thief hid a diamond in a pot of beauty cream, similar to the plot of one of the "Pink Panther" movies about an inept French detective.