A 200-strong gang of global jewel thieves has become the bane of Interpol and heroes to many in their native Serbia, the Los Angeles Times reports. The "Pink Panthers" live among the many refugees from the Balkan wars scattered around the world. They are blamed for at least 100 heists worldwide over the last decade from Paris to Dubai, many carried out with an audacity that stuns local law enforcement.
Gang members, believed to include many former soldiers, largely come from the Serbian city of Nis. Residents of the city, economically battered by years of war and sanctions, say they're proud of the criminals. "They're heroes," declared a Serbian radio host. "They're violent but they haven't killed anyone. It's as if they're saying, 'We can beat the technologically superior West.'" One fan urged on a web site: "I hope you rob the US Federal Reserve."