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Frontex leads international action against stolen vehicles across Europe

2021-11-08

Combatting the trafficking of stolen vehicles, its parts, stolen boats as well preventing migrant smuggling and associated document fraud was the focus of a Frontex-led operation conducted across Europe supported by INTERPOL, Europol as well as CELBET.

The operation named Mobile 4  took place between 11-22 October in 15 EU countries and further six countries in the Balkan region. It was an action under the umbrella of EMPACT Priority Organised Property Crime*, co-led by Greece, Germany, Poland, and Europol.

Hundreds of police officers and border guards from 23 European and Western Balkan countries were involved in the operation. European standing corps officers deployed by Frontex as part of the agency’s ongoing land operations supported the action with their expertise.

Within two weeks, officers involved in the operation performed 10 000 checks of different databases leading to the seizure of 518 stolen vehicles.

Participating countries also confiscated 400 stolen vehicle parts found in trucks and in chop shops, leading to new investigations against car crime gangs. In addition, over 140 of forged or falsified ID documents and vehicles documents were detected.

Thanks to the cooperation between various authorities, several luxury cars were seized in different EU countries, which shows international character of the threat.

Officers also raided chop shops – places where stolen vehicles were dismantled into parts to be further smuggled and sold online.

During the checks of thousands of vehicles and boats, authorities detected 1000 irregular migrants on the way to the EU via land and sea routes. 31 facilitators of migrant smuggling have been arrested.

Thanks to the multipurpose approach, also other types of criminal activities were targeted, including trafficking in drugs, firearms and endangered species.


Sharing information

Frontex set up a coordination centre at its headquarters in Warsaw, where officers from participating countries could exchange information. INTERPOL provided key support to the operation by sharing its expertise, databases and worldwide network.

During the joint action, law enforcement authorities worked hand in hand with the private industry, especially car manufacturers, rental and leasing companies, but also producers of boats, to target motor vehicle crime in a more efficient manner.

Thanks to the action, criminals were prevented from smuggling many vehicles and boats overseas. Authorities that took part in Mobile 4 observed an increasing trend of smuggling of stolen trucks, busses, agriculture machinery as well as holiday cars (campers).


Participants

Hundreds of police officers and border guards from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo*, Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia were involved in the operation on the spot.

 

*The operation was part of European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT), a four-year plan for the fight against serious and organised crime. It brings together police and law enforcement authorities of EU Member States, European agencies and international organisations to jointly strengthen Europe’s borders and internal security.


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