Europol-led op busts ‘Fast and Furious’ moving truck theft ring

Law enforcement has taken out a network of criminals that carried out an audacious series of thefts on moving trucks in Europe, making 68 arrests.

The five-country operation – led by Europol and codenamed ARROW – targeted a gang estimated to be around 100 strong that carried out around 150 thefts that brought in more than €10m in illicit proceeds.

Moving truck thefts have hit the headlines in the last few years initially anecdotal reports which were then confirmed by documented cases of what came to be known as the “Romanian modus operandi” but targeted shipments across Europe.

The Romanina MO involves one car driving slowly in front of the truck while two other cars hold up other traffic. A fourth car would drive up close behind the truck, and one of the criminals would climb out of the car’s sunroof onto the bonnet and break open the lock on the lorry with an angle grinder.

The valuable cargo would then either be transferred to their vehicle, or thrown on the side of the road to be picked up later. The driver of the lorry and other road-users were often completely unaware of what was going on. Some reported cases also involved breaking into the load from the roof.

The latest crackdown resulted in the arrest today in Romania of 37 members of the gang after 73 house searches were carried out in the early hours of the morning across the country by the Romanian National Police (Poliția Română) and the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) with the support of Europol.

Another 31 alleged members of the crime syndicate were intercepted in France, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden in the last few months, and arrest warrants have been issued for the remaining members at large. The arrested individuals are all originally from Romania.

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