Spanish police bust Pink Panther gang in jewelry heist

August 5, 2016 11:39 AM EDT

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MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish police said on Friday they had arrested five alleged members of the so-called "Pink Panther" gang of jewel thieves in Barcelona.

A special operations unit from the Catalan police was waiting when the thieves, one armed with a pistol, tried to rob a jewelry store on the city's famous Passeig de Gracia avenue, a police statement said.

The operation was part of a larger investigation with different crime units in Spain, and with the collaboration of the Serbian and German police, the statement said.

Police were able to recover the jewelry the gang was trying to steal.

The Pink Panther gang got their nickname after a 2003 London robbery when a thief hid a diamond in a pot of beauty cream, similar to the plot of one of the Pink Panther movies about an inept French detective played by English actor Peter Sellers.

Interpol, the international crime-fighting agency, estimates the Pink Panther network has stolen more than 334 million euros ($369.57 million) worth of jewelry in around 380 armed robberies between 1999 and 2015.

($1 = 0.9038 euros)

(Reporting by Catherine Bennett; Editing by Angus Berwick, Larry King)

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