World / Crime & Legal

Croatia collars four suspected thieves, including one with ‘Pink Panthers’ link, in Venice jewel heist

AP

Croatian police said Thursday they have arrested four suspects in the brazen theft last January of precious Indian jewels from the famed Al Thani Collection that were on display in a Venetian palace.

The men, all Croatians ranging in age from 43 to 60, were arrested Wednesday after a months-long joint investigation with Italian police, Croatian police said in a statement.

The force did not reveal whether the jewels had been recovered, and Italian police had no immediate comment.

The statement said that one of the suspects is believed linked to several major heists in Europe and the notorious, multinational “Pink Panther” gang of thieves. He is also sought by Switzerland over a 2011 jewelry heist, police said.

The thieves made off with a brooch and a pair of earrings worth an estimated $3 million by mixing in with the crowd on the final day of the exhibition at Venice’s Doge’s Palace, or the Palazzo Ducale, one of the city’s top tourist destinations on the edge of St. Mark’s Square.

The stolen jewels were not the top highlights of the Al Thani Collection, which includes gems dating from the time of the Mughal Empire.

The collection includes 270 pieces of Indian and Indian-inspired jewelry and precious stones, spanning 400 years from the Mughal period to the present and assembled by Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani. Forbes magazine has said “there is no comparable collection on the planet.”

Before Venice, the “Treasures of the Mughals and the Maharajas” had also been displayed at Paris’ Grand Palais, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, New York’s Metropolitan and the Miho Museum near Kyoto, Japan.