Thefts committed by Lithuanians in Germany interrupted as part of a large-scale international operation
Today, massive police forces from Lithuania and Germany joined together for a large-scale international operation resulting in over 100 searches and arrests. The operation was actively supported by Europol and Eurojust; Europol officers came to Lithuania to partake in certain operation-related activities. The operation with the participation of around 900 police officers from both countries was simultaneously initiated and conducted in several cities of Lithuania and Germany.
In the early morning, more than 100 searches were simultaneously conducted in residential premises, garages, vehicles selling points and vehicles in Lithuania and Germany. As a result of the searches, equipment intended for starting vehicles, car audio systems, vehicle GPS systems, documents, computers, SIM cards, weapons, and other objects prohibited in civil circulation were discovered.
The operation coordinated by officers of Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau and conducted by prosecutors of Organized Crimes and Corruption Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Lithuania and officers of local criminal police forces was simultaneously pursued in several cities around the country (including Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šilutė, Marijampolė, Panevėžys, and Telšiai).
Persons in command of the criminal groups (17 in total) were arrested in the course of the operation. Leaders of 7 groups were arrested in Lithuania. European Arrest Warrants were issued in respect of all suspects and court ruling with regard to their arrest will be requested.
With a view to ensuring smooth progress of the operation, large-scale inter-institutional action coordination centre was established within Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau. Officers not only in real-time coordinated actions of all groups conducting arrests and searches, but also provided information-related assistance to analogous headquarters in Germany as well as exchanged relevant information. Progress of the operation was monitored by colleagues from Germany and Europol. One Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau officer participated in the activities of the operation headquarters in Germany.
The investigation was initiated upon receipt of information suggesting that Lithuanians, in cooperation with fellow-countrymen residing in Germany, are involved in vehicle thefts and thefts of luxury items left behind in vehicles. The targeted items included navigation systems, steering wheels, audio systems, and items forbidden in civil circulation. Young people would travel from Lithuania to Germany, would be accommodated there and for a certain period of time would commit a series of thefts. Stolen items would be brought to Lithuania and sold on markets.
Data available to the Police suggest that damage amounting to 5 million EUR was inflicted on Germans in one year. Investigation related activities were initiated in Lithuania a year ago, and it took around 2 months to prepare for today's operation.