'Pink Panther' jewel thief escapes Swiss jail in armed prison break


Herbert Lom, left, and Peter Sellers in 'The Pink Panther Strikes Again.' (Bloomberg)

A Bosnian member of the "Pink Panther" group of international jewel thieves escaped a Swiss jail on Thursday evening in an armed prison break.

Milan Poparic, 34, broke out of a prison in Orbe with 53-year-old fellow inmate and serial criminal Adrian Albrecht.

Albrecht reportedly escaped from the same prison once before, in 1992.

Two accomplices used a van and two ladders to help the prisoners escape the jail's enclosure. They fire multiple rounds from automatic weapons to prevent guards from stopping them, but no one was injured.

Swiss police have launched a search for the two men and have warned border guards and the French police, since the prison is close to France's border.

Poparic was serving six years and eight months for his involvement in the 2009 robbery of a jewelry store in Neuchatel.

More from GlobalPost: Inside a world-class ring of diamond thieves

The international gang of jewel thieves of which he is a member got their "Pink Panther" name after British police found a diamond ring in a tub of face cream, bringing back memories of a scene in the 1963 comedy film The Pink Panther.

The network of criminals has hundreds of members and is thought to have stolen jewelry in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States worth more than 300 million euros ($396 million) since 1999.

A prison service spokesman said he thought the gang was clearly involved in Thursday's breakout.