Organised crime car theft network dismantled in Baltic states

An organised crime network originating in and operating from Lithuania and specialised in the theft of luxury cars from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania has been dismantled, European police agency Europol said.

In total, 99 thefts were committed. In Estonia, 25 people were convicted in relation to 56 thefts, while in Latvia, 43 thefts were committed. The amount awarded in victim compensation is almost 550 000 euro.

A joint investigation team (JIT) composed of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian authorities, with judicial co-ordination support and funding for the JIT under the JIT Funding Project provided by Eurojust and analysis supplied by Europol, also disrupted the operations of four related mobile organised crime groups of Lithuanian thieves operating in Estonia and Latvia.

This case involved one of the largest and longest-running joint investigations in the Baltic region, from April 2009 to April 2012.

In a coordination meeting on October 11 at Eurojust, the performance of the JIT was evaluated by Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian authorities and Europol. They also exchanged views on the results achieved and experience gained, Europol said.

After the meeting, Estonian JIT leader and Chief State Prosecutor Heili Sepp said that Estonia has been involved in 25 JITs since 2007.

“This so-called “JIT Balcar” has been the largest in terms of time and resources. This JIT provided valuable experience and solutions in terms of international co-operation.

“Overcoming the gaps between national legal systems required a great deal of creativity. Fortunately, we had the advantage of working with people with a very high level of experience. Also worth mentioning is the final outcome – 11 decisions and 25 convictions,” Sepp said.

(Photo: Michal Zacharzewski/




The Sofia Globe staff

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