Photo: Polizei Emsland

Report: Europol honing in on gangs of organised truck cargo thieves

Twenty arrest warrants have been issued in relation to gangs of cargo thieves operating road transport companies from a remote Romanian village. According to a report by German newspaper Der Spiegel, some of the thieves grabbed valuable hauls of flat-screen TVs and Hennessey Cognac.

You can read this article in 3 minutes

Investigators from Germany , France and Romania have teamed up as part of the investigation, which has led officers to the Romanian village of Bezdead. The village of roughly 4,500 inhabitants is said to be home to an unusually high number of “well-heeled truck drivers”, reports Der Spiegel.

It is said that the gangs operate fake road transport firms while also organising valuable cargo thefts. The thieves have largely targeted rest areas in northern Germany – particularly those located on motorways used to get between Amsterdam and Warsaw. The Holsterfeld truck stop on the A30 near Rheine is just one example.

As Der Spiegel writes, the thieves typically drive into HGV parking areas in the early hours with their own trucks and then load them with freight stolen from other parked vehicles. By the time the drivers of the other trucks notice the theft, the perpetrators are usually long gone.

The well-organized gang from Brezdead is said to have stolen from 112 trucks on the A30, almost all of which were parked at the aforementioned rest area. Indeed, due to the worrying frequency of recorded cargo thefts at Holsterfeld truck stop, plain-clothed police officers are reportedly monitoring the site.

During the summer months, some of the gangs moved to France, attracting the attention of the police over there.

Michael Will, head of the property crime department at Europol, told Der Spiegel: “In some cases, specially prepared vehicles with side openings in the tarpaulin are used to park right next to the victim.” He added that the thieves also deploy one individual as a “Jammer”, whose responsibility is prevent truck drivers from calling for help. Will also said that truck drivers who dare to defend themselves may be threatened or physically attacked.

On one occasion, the organised thieves are said to have stolen 200 flat screen televisions worth 200,000 euros. In a separate incident, cases of Hennessy Cognac worth 100,000 were taken. Back in March, one the gangs even tried to pull of a rolling-heist in order to get their hands on some laptops. The stunt was unsuccessful though, leading to the arrest of six persons.

German and French investigators are now in the process of arresting members of the gang, who are currently thought to be in possession of stolen goods, cars and real estate worth around 2.5 million euros.