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Pink Panther Jewel Thief Escapes Swiss Prison Amid Gunfire

The combo of undated wanted photos issued by the police in Vaud, western Switzerland, shows fugitives Adrian Albrecht, left, and Milan Poparovic who escaped from a Swiss prison on July 25, 2013 after accomplices rammed a gate and fired at guards, police said Friday. Photograph: Police Vaud via AP Images
The combo of undated wanted photos issued by the police in Vaud, western Switzerland, shows fugitives Adrian Albrecht, left, and Milan Poparovic who escaped from a Swiss prison on July 25, 2013 after accomplices rammed a gate and fired at guards, police said Friday. Photograph: Police Vaud via AP Images

July 26 (Bloomberg) -- A member of the Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves escaped from a prison in the Swiss canton of Vaud late yesterday, according to local police.

Milan Poparic, a 34-year-old Bosnian sentenced to six years and eight months incarceration for robbing a jewelery store in Neuchatel, Switzerland, in 2009, escaped with another prisoner and two accomplices while firing shots at guards, the Vaud police said in a statement on the authority’s website today.

The Pink Panthers are named after the 1963 movie starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. The group targets expensive jewelry stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the U.S. and may have carried out robberies of goods worth more than 300 million euros ($398 million) since 1999, according to Interpol.

The other escapee, Adrian Albrecht, 52, was serving a seven-year sentence in the prison near the French border and has been convicted for kidnapping and abduction, robbery, money laundering and theft, according to the statement.

The Swiss and French police are cooperating on a manhunt after the four men fled in a gray vehicle.

Five inmates of a prison near Lausanne, Switzerland, including two Pink Panther members, escaped in May and two were caught, police said at the time.

To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Broom in Geneva at gbroom@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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