Diamond Heists, Gangsters and Banksters: The Last Panthers Arrives On Sky Atlantic
Ask someone about the “pink panther” and it will probably lead to a conversation about the inept Jacques Clouseau or the cheeky cartoon panther himself. However, in more recent history, adding an “s” on the end to pluralise the phrase should conjure up thoughts surrounding the notorious gang of criminals. Infamous for their spectacular diamond heists since 1999 – to date they are suspected to have stolen over $500 million in various robberies – the press dubbed the group “Pink Panthers”.
Made up of mainly Serbs, Montenegrins and Bosniaks, the loosely affiliated group total over 200 people working internationally in what have been termed “glamorous” heists – hence the media interest. In 2013 the documentary film Smash & Grab was released, with footage from CCTV and interviews with supposed members of the gang.
In 2007 they stole $3.4 million worth of jewellery from a Dubai store after being in and out in just 170 seconds. They are nothing if not thorough: from ramming the car backwards into the store to avoid the airbag being deployed to timing the heist so that the pursuing police would get trapped in rush hour traffic.
This grainy mobile phone footage shows the robbers speeding away with their loot:
The gang insists that there are no victims in what they do, they simply want to take expensive things from rich people – without harming anyone. In 2013 when Guardian reporter Havana Marking met “Lela” a past associate of the Panthers, she told her of the vital part women play in the heists: “Women in the Panthers have to be exceptional. We have high requirements of them because they have the leading roles, but you can only have one in each gang. She has to be intelligent. She has to be beautiful. And she has to love money very much…”
She goes on to speak about the extensive surveillance she would carry out before a heist, often completely changing her appearance to avoid detection. “Hairdressers would come to my house… I’d be sometimes blonde, sometimes brunette, redhead.”
It is no surprise that the glamour of it all catches the media’s attention, it is a story made for the screen. Tonight Sky Atlantic will premiere The Last Panthers, a new six-part European crime thriller. Opening with a daring diamond heist that highly resembles the Panthers’ previous work, Samantha Morton portrays a British loss adjuster who is tasked with the recovery of the diamonds by her boss, played by the award-winning John Hurt. During the robbery, a little girl is killed which heightens the intensity of the case and hurtles the audience into the dark heart of modern day Europe, only to find it ruled by an allegiance of gangsters and “banksters”.
Directed by Johan Renck whose credits include The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad this gripping drama is set to make pulses race. Take a first look at the series here:
The Last Panthers airs tonight (12.11.2015) at (insert time).