Organised property crime

EMPACT Priority

Motor vehicle crime, domestic burglaries, robberies, metal and cargo theft, ATM attacks and the so-called grandchild trick are some of the most common forms of organised property crime conducted by organised criminal groups across borders.


A problem in almost all EU Member States, organised property crime is one of Europol’s nine priority crime areas under the 2014-2017 EU Policy Cycle.

Crimes in this category are often committed by highly mobile organised crime groups that typically carry out a significant number of offences in a region over a short period before moving on.

As organised property crimes are often investigated in insolation at the local level, an analysis at the national level is often lacking, making these crimes harder to detect and to solve.

Of major concern to EU law enforcement is the increase in domestic burglaries attributable to itinerant crime groups originating mainly from south-eastern and eastern Europe. Characterised by transnational organisational structures, flexibility and adaptability to countermeasures taken by individual states, such groups belong to or are considered one step away from the organised crime field.

Estimates suggest one burglary is committed every 1.5 minutes in the EU, with some Member States registering 1 000 burglaries every day. 


A most visible form of crime, organised property crime has the potential to cause widespread feelings of insecurity, not least among vulnerable groups such as the elderly, who are the targets of various scams or deception thefts conduced over the telephone.

Market demand determines what objects organised criminal groups tend to steal. While most Member States have observed a decline in vehicle theft, the theft of certain vehicles has increased, such as of agricultural and construction machinery and vehicles in western Europe destined for eastern Europe. Organised criminal groups have become more adept at concealing stolen vehicles, some of which are subsequently moved to destinations outside the EU

While it has also experienced a decline in recent years, metal theft remains a significant problem for many Member States.

Cargo theft is another area of concern, although the average value of goods stolen has been on the decrease. The most commonly stolen goods include tyres and spare parts, electronics as well as food and beverages.

Organised property crime is among the crimes targeted in annual operations to counter organised crime networks, such as the 2014 Archimedes, 2015 Blue Amber and 2016 Ciconia Alba operations.