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Alleged 'Pink Panthers' jailed for watch heist

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Alleged 'Pink Panthers' jailed for watch heist
Lucerne, site of the armed robbery. Photo: Lucerne tourist office
21:48 CET+01:00
Two members of a band of robbers were sentenced by a Geneva court on Monday to four and five years in jail for holding up a Lucerne jewellery store in March 2012 when they made off with 78 watches worth close to 1.3 million francs.

The men, aged 39 and 43, are originally from Montenegro and believed to be members of the Pink Panthers, a band notorious for a series of holdups across Europe, including Switzerland, the ATS news agency reported.

A third accomplice has yet to be judged.

The two men were convicted for their role in a lightning fast holdup of the Swiss Lion jeweller’s shop in Lucerne.

The gang threatened employees with a starting pistol (which did not work) and smashed display windows to grab the timepieces before fleeing with the booty after less than 90 seconds, ATS reported.

No one was injured in the holdup.

The robbers retreated to an apartment 60 kilometres from Lucerne, where police ultimately arrested them, recovering all but one of the watches.

One of the two men sentenced had a previous prison record for a similar holdup.

The case was referred to Geneva justice authorities because the third accomplice was linked to an August 2009 robbery of the Chatila jewellery store in that city.

While defence lawyers argued that their clients were amateurs, prosecutor Nathalie Magenat-Fuchs said she was convinced the pair were members of the Pink Panthers, according to the ATS report.

The band, originally from the Balkans, robbed jewellery shops across Europe over a span of several years, with a reputation for lightning strikes without bloodshed.

Membership in the band has varied, Magenat-Fuchs said. 

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