Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Venice jewellery heist: expert insight from the 'gentleman thief’"

From The Guardian, November 17:

Vincenzo Pepino, the only other person to have successfully robbed Doge’s Palace, suspects £1.7m theft was an inside job
Until January, only one other person had pulled off a burglary at Doge’s Palace, the seat of power during Venice’s years as a republic, and a museum since 1923.

In 1991, Vincenzo Pipino, nicknamed the “gentleman thief” for the polite way in which he pursued his criminal exploits, spent most of a night hidden in a cell in the New Prisons building next door, carefully calculating a security guard’s manoeuvres. At his chosen moment, Pipino slipped out and walked across the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the prisons to the palace. From there, he entered the Consoli room, took the highly valuable Madonna col Bambino (Madonna with Child), painted in the early 1500s, covered it with a blanket and sauntered out of the building through a side door.
The theft in January of €2m (£1.7m) worth of jewellery owned by a member of Qatar’s royal family on the final day of an exhibition of Mughal and Maharaja treasures bore all the hallmarks of the Pipino heist – slick, free from violence, and successful.

“When I did my robbery, there was only one security guard,” Pipino, 75, told the Guardian this week. “Security has improved a lot since then … but something was amiss. Possibly there were cracks in the alarm system, maybe the alarms weren’t modern enough.”

January’s thieves managed to deactivate an alarm system, break into a reinforced case in the Chamber of the Scrutinio – an immense room on the building’s second floor – steal some earrings and a brooch, and melt into a crowd of tourists. Police were so perplexed they were forced to call in experts from Rome.

Vito Gagliardi, the chief police commissioner, said at the time that the reinforced case, which was provided by the Qatari curators, had been opened like a tin can. Officers suspected the thieves had scoped out the vast palace, which attracts up to 4,000 visitors a day, before seizing the right moment. Two of the suspects were seen on CCTV.

On 9 November, 11 months after the heist, there was a breakthrough when five people were arrested in Croatia. In a further unexpected twist, one of the suspects briefly escaped custody, reportedly by climbing out of a bathroom window at a police station in the Croatian town of Tovarnik. He was later intercepted trying to cross the nearby border into Serbia.

Another of the captured suspects is said to be part of the Pink Panthers, an international network of jewel thieves. Investigators had been hunting for the man after €10m of jewels were stolen from a 2011 exhibition in Basel, Switzerland....MUCH MORE
We visited Vincenzo in February's "Pipino Gentleman Thief: Magicians, Mafiosos, a Missing Painting, and the Heist of a Lifetime".

And a couple prior mentions of the Pink Panthers:

'Pink Panther' jewel thief breaks out of Swiss jail (340 robberies, 330 million euros [£280m] booty)
How the Hell Did A Lone Bandit Steal $136 Million In Diamonds?
"Cannes Thief Nabs $53 Million Worth of Jewels and Diamonds"

And then there's always Gary Grant, Grace Kelly, French Riviera, directed by Hitchcock:

The picnic scene that overlooks Monaco: 1009 D53 (Avenue des Anciens Combattants d'Afrique du Nord), 06240 Beausoleil.[1]

[1]  Le Stuff: To Catch A Thief 

From: "To Catch a Thief (1955) - locations

Here's a side-by-side comparison of how the locations have changed