On 26 November, the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie nationale) and the Lithuanian Police (Lietuvos Policija) supported by Europol, have dismantled an organised crime group involved in the theft of navigation systems from tractors.
The investigation led to the identification of 47 criminal cases associated with the same organised crime group. It is estimated that the criminal network has caused damage worth more than €575 000. During the operation, four individuals were arrested in Panevėžys, Lithuania, where the network was based.
Operating in rural areas through France since 2018, the criminal syndicate is suspected of stealing GPS systems to then resell them mainly outside the EU. Depending on the type of system, each navigation system is worth between €10 000 and €20 000.
Europol supported the exchange of operational information, provided analytical and coordination support. On the action day, Europol experts supported the operation by cross-checking real-time operational information against Europol’s databases.
Agro theft: immediate response to the growing trend
With 675 cases in 2018 – which represents more than €6.5 million losses in the agricultural sector – an increasing trend of GPS thefts in tractors has been seen in France. Europol provided information exchange and coordination to the French national task force against GPS theft in tractors, which was created in 2018.
In September 2019, another investigation supported by Europol led to six arrests and the dismantling on another Lithuanian organised crime group believed to be responsible for €2.5 million in damage.
In 2010 the European Union set up a four-year Policy Cycle to ensure greater continuity in the fight against serious international and organised crime. In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 - 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Organised property crime is one of the priorities for the Policy Cycle.