Pink Panther 'jewel thief' held in France

French policeman The French Riviera has seen a string of recent robberies

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A suspected member of a gang of jewel thieves known as the Pink Panthers has been arrested in southern France.

The man has not been named but is said to be in his 40s, of Montenegrin origin. He apparently escaped earlier this year from a Swiss prison.

French police said he was arrested at his home in Montpellier, as he tried to escape through a window.

His arrest follows a string of major thefts in Cannes, in southern France, but it is not clear if there is a link.

The Pink Panthers are an international band of jewel thieves, many of whom hail from the Balkans, who are known for their daring robberies and burglaries.

They are thought to have stolen over 250m euros (£215m) of precious stones over 10 years.

The arrested suspect is a former French legionnaire.

He is said to be one of five men who broke out of the Bois-Mermet prison, near Lausanne in Switzerland, in May.

At least one other of the escapees was thought to be a member of the Pink Panthers.

Another member of the gang escaped from a Swiss prison last month.

The Pink Panthers were given their name when police in London made an arrest in 2003, and found a diamond ring hidden in a jar of face cream - a ploy used in the original Pink Panther comedies starring Peter Sellers.

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