Skip to main content

'Pink Panther' escapes in armed Swiss prison break with fellow inmate

By Saskya Vandoorne and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 3:30 PM EDT, Fri July 26, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Swiss police are hunting two escaped prisoners and their two accomplices
  • Police: One of the inmates belongs to the Pink Panthers, an international jewel theft gang
  • The two accomplices used vehicles, ladders and automatic weapons to overcome security
  • The four men escaped in a gray-colored vehicle, police said

(CNN) -- Police in Switzerland hunted Friday for two inmates who escaped in a prison break staged by a pair of armed accomplices.

The two prisoners who escaped from Orbe prison Thursday evening were named by the Vaud canton's police department as serial criminal Adrian Albrecht, 53, and Milan Poparic, 34, a Bosnian national.

Poparic was jailed for robbery of a jewelry store in Neuchatel and is part of the "Pink Panthers" group, the police statement said.

According to the Interpol website, the Pink Panthers are behind armed robberies targeting high-end jewelry stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

Drag queens, fake beards and chocolates: Notable diamond heists

The loosely associated network of criminals has hundreds of members and is believed to have stolen jewelry worth more than €300 million ($396 million) since 1999, it said.

Several inmates were exercising in an outside area under the supervision of prison officers and private security guards when the two accomplices used vehicles to breach a gate and barbed wire barriers around the prison grounds.

They brought two ladders to help Poparic and Albrecht escape over the barbed-wire of the prison yard, police said.

At the same time, the accomplices directed bursts of automatic weapon fire toward the prison officers and security guards to keep them at bay.

The security personnel were able to take cover and no one was hurt, police said. The four men then torched one of the two vehicles and drove off in the other, a gray-colored vehicle.

Police patrols, canine teams and security officers are combing the area for clues to their whereabouts. The border guards and French police are also involved in the hunt for the four men, police said.

Orbe, a town in Switzerland's western Vaud canton, or state, is not far from the French border.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:51 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It was supposed to be a class trip to a resort island. Instead, the ferry capsized, turning the afternoon into a deadly nightmare.
updated 6:12 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Whether he's dressing naked statues in white tees, creating voluminous balloons shaped like human buttocks or setting up gigantic 3D zippers, Jun Kitagawa's public art is whimsical, erotic and playful.
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
updated 1:30 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 12:24 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Oscar Pistorius didn't consciously pull the trigger the night he shot and killed his girlfriend, the sprinter testified at his murder trial.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A mysterious new artwork has appeared in Cheltenham, where Britain's version of the NSA is located.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Like many parents across Liverpool, the McManamans waited. 25 years ago, it was all they could do.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
The Maltese Falcon makes a swift turn while at sea.
How do you design a superyacht fit for the billionaire who has everything money can buy?
updated 11:48 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Pop art condoms in Kenya
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
updated 11:42 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
mediterranean monk seal
Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:43 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Ebola victims usually come from remote areas -- but now the lethal virus is in a city of two million.
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT