Police bust giant burglary network
Police said the gang was like an octopus with tentacles across Europe and members related by blood or marriage.
The investigation began when three women were caught trying to break into a Munich home in January 2016.
According to police, the women were clearly professionals who acted in a fast and skilful manner with specialist tools.
The subsequent operations led to arrests in Croatia (pictured), Spain and Germany.
Reinhold Bergmann, police burglary commissioner, said that the gang could also have operations in Belgium, France and Italy.
Further investigation resulted in more arrests in Gelsenkirchen, Münster, Villingen-Schwennigen, Hanover and Frankfurt.
The three young women originally arrested attracted attention for the skill and speed with which they were carrying out a burglary in Lehel in the southern German city.
The skilled young burglars, prized for their discretion and lower chance of being jailed, were traded between the various families within the network, Bergmann said.
“They have no choice but to participate,” Bergmann told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Police went on to arrest 20 other young women in Munich, described as “worker bees”.
They claimed to be teenagers but police said they were using forged identity documents and were linked to a Croatian gang. It was then discovered that they belonged to the mafia-style network that was responsible for many burglaries across Europe.
Police arrested two alleged gang “middle managers” in western Germany and two supposed bosses in Croatia. Another two suspects are still at large.
Further arrests were subsequently reported in Spain. In July last year, a police investigation took detectives to Bilbao in northern Spain where, with the help of colleagues at Europol and Eurojust, they arrested other members of the network.
The wider criminal family has an estimated 500 members.
Croatian police said they found alleged gang leaders living in luxury marble-floored villas in the capital, Zagreb.
Officers said they had seized jewellery and large numbers of euros with investigators saying they are trying to trace the gang’s victims.
The police said they had recovered some watches and rings that would be returned to their owners.
Croatia. Picture credit: Pixabay