PAGING INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU
An Ex-Pink Panther on His Old Crew Blamed for Robbing Kim Kardashian
Expert thieves took $9 million in jewels and left on bicycles. A veteran safe cracker says it sounds like his old friends and shares how they might have done it.
A gang of armed robbers tied Kim Kardashian up, held her at gunpoint and stole $9 million in jewelry from her at the Hotel de Pourtales in Paris, France. Kardashian was attending Paris Fashion Week and her accommodations were not really a hotel, but a residence of 8 apartments reserved for multi-millionaires. The five-man robbery team quickly overpowered the concierge and specifically asked him to point out Kardashian’s apartment. The robbers found her alone in the apartment at around 3 a.m.
Speculation has run rampant in the media concerning the bold and daring heist. With France on lockdown due to the terror recent terror attacks, not many robbers would even brave such a move. In the eyes of the media only the infamous Pink Panthers, a Serbian robbery collective, would be worthy of such a heist. The coordinated, precise, and non-violent strike fits the Pink Panther’s modus operandi. It appears that the gentleman robbers with the Mission Impossible playbook have struck again, adding to their mythology and infamy in the criminal underworld.
I asked former Pink Panther and safe cracker extraordinaire, Palve “Punch” Stanimirovic, what he thought about the Kardashian heist. Punch used to plan robberies for the YACS, which stands for Yugoslavians, Albanians, Croations, and Serbians. They were the the Pink Panther’s predecessors. Stanimirovic’s father, Vojislav, pulled off the Vizcaya Heist, robbing Miami’s Vizcaya museum of $250,000 in antique silver in 1971 and set the trend for Eastern European burglary crews.
There seems to be a lot of speculation in the media concerning the Kim Kardashian robbery in Paris and who did it. The Pink Panther’s name has been floated as the perpetrators. As an ex-member what do you think?
There’s a lot of speculation going on behind who did it. If it was the Pink Panthers then they carried out and executed a perfect crime. They just took $9 million worth of jewelry. The media is speculating saying it’s the Serbian Pink Panthers. But a lot of people don’t have a good picture on the entire Pink Panther organization. They think it’s one organization with 400 members and one boss.
And the boss that they’re claiming, Dragan Mikic, is only 33-year-old, the same age as Kim Kardashian. This guy was in jail before. A bunch of guys- Montenegrins, Bosnians, Croatians, Serbians- all criminals are a part of this group. And you have the ex-military guys that came from the former Yugoslavia too. These people were a part of the military and when the country broke up they became Ronin, like the Samurai. They don’t have a master. No leader. No head and no tail. All they do is they go by their intelligence.
Nobody would be crazy enough to operate in Paris after all the terrorist affairs that just happened in Nice and the South of France. Unless of course they’re already in Paris or they travel with the fashion show or the tennis players or the athletes. This is a very prestigious affair. We are talking about Monte Carlo and Paris. These guys do heists and they jump on boats and get away like that. Very movie-like.
Why do you think Kim Kardashian was targeted and why in Paris?
Kim Kardashian is very active on social media. She likes to expose what she has. She had a diamond ring that’s worth $4-5 million. She puts it on social media and therefore everybody else knows about it. This happened to her at this hotel she stayed in. I’m happy that’s she not hurt and happy that she didn’t have her family there, like her kids. She helped the bandits, the ones that pulled the caper off, because she advertises what she has. Everybody knows that Kanye gave her that ring. She wears it with pride.
If you’re a burglar or a robber or someone that was involved with the Pink Panthers you’d want to get something like that. They’re claiming $9 million, but you know how much the bandits are going to get? They’re only going to get like $2-3 million if they’re lucky, if they're very fortunate. If they get $200,000 to 300,000 each for the five or six of them involved that’s a score.
If I was an active member of the Pink Panthers today I’d be in Monte Carlo. I’d be in Paris, France. This is where I’d be. This robbery was done in the same exact way that I’d do it. They executed the heist just like I would. I would put on a cop uniform or UPS uniform. Two guys would go in. Three guys outside. You have to have lookouts and they got away on bicycles, not motorcycles, bicycles. That’s a very Parisian thing to do.
News reports have claimed that the Pink Panthers are this big organized crime group and it’s the same robbers over and over again. How do they plan their heists and more importantly how do they get away with them?
In 1994 they went into the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, three masked men with two lookouts outside. They came in and they took 60 million in diamonds and jewelry. They shot up the place with fully automatic weapons and everybody hit the deck, but not one bullet hole was found. It was all acting, all a show. That’s what makes the Pink Panthers amazing thieves. Because the ones that did this, do you think you’ll find them? No way, they’re probably in Ibiza with Paris Hilton.
People think it’s the same people over and over again, but it’s not. It’s the one they don’t have it. Once you get some money you’re relaxing for several years. Everybody knows that Kim Kardashian is an easy target. She’s by herself and you know who the people are that work in the service industry in Paris and all over Europe. These are the Croatians and Serbians. These are the waiters, door men, and cleaning people. They work in the modeling industry. And they have friends that have friends that have friends.
It’s so easy to pick up a phone and say hey Kim Kardashian is here in room so and so. You know how fast they can set this up? They know the area. They know the hotel because she came there a couple of times already. They just waited for her and they knew she was coming for fashion week. This was a preplanned inside job and they pulled it off. It’s only a couple of pieces of jewelry. Five guys went in, they got the concierge, got him to open Kardashian’s room. They went in, tied her up, gagged her and took the jewelry and left on bicycles.
Where did the Pink Panther name come from, where did the group originate and what are they like as people?
The Pink Panther name derived from someone hiding some diamonds in a jar of cream like the Peter Sellars movie. That’s how they got the name. The Pink Panthers were established in New York a long time ago. They were the YACS and when they got extradited back to Europe that’s when they started to become the Pink Panthers. They just changed the name. They’re still the YACS.
The YACS were Yugoslavians, Albanians, Croations, and Serbians. That spells YACS and that’s the name they gave the crime group. The YACS committed hundreds of robberies in New York in the early ‘90s. The feds started arrested a bunch of YACS in the New York area. One group was doing ATM’s, some doing super markets, others shopping malls, some banks- in every industry there was someone doing burglaries.
I feel like I’m one of the originators of the Pink Panthers. I’ve been doing this in New York since 1990 and my father before me. I was the youngest and highest ranking member of the YACS. It no longer exists because it was disbanded. What I did was strictly burglaries and robbers, but I went after stuff that is insured. Just like the Pink Panthers. That’s why they hit Kim Kardashian. She definitely would have been a target of mine if I was active.
All the Pink Panthers have college educations. They speak multiple languages fluently. They all play soccer. They’re athletes. But they blend in. They know how to look like a local. The Pink Panthers they got balls and they show it over and over. They don’t hurt anyone. It’s not lucrative for them to hurt anyone. That’s why I’m thinking this job with Kardashian is the Pink Panthers. She was an easy target and you can’t really combat somebody that has a plan. These guys are experts.
The reason they never get caught is because they take two weeks to execute the plan and they’re together the whole time. They don’t separate until the job is complete. They know each other from the military or prison or the criminal underworld. They don’t do this stuff for the notoriety, they do it for the money and the money is in places like Dubai and Tokyo and Paris.