Europol warning over Romanian gangs
Criminal gangs from Romania are targeting European cities by flying in on low-cost airlines to commit their crimes before returning home, the director of Europol has warned.
Rob Wainwright described the gangs as "petty criminals operating across multiple jurisdictions", adding that they are active across Europe, it was reported today.
The main crimes being carried out are thought to be card-skimming and pickpocketing, with Romanian and Bulgarian gangs thought to be responsible for 90% of all card-skimming crimes in Europe, according to Europol.
Europol has identified 240 organised crime gangs from Romania, which account for 6.7% of all criminal networks active in Europe, the Times reported.
Mr Wainwright told the newspaper: "We have this travelling criminal gang phenomenon that has become much more prevalent in the last three or four years; gangs from Lithuania, gangs from Poland, gangs from Romania that are operating in 20 or more European countries.
"They fly on low-cost airlines, do a few hits in one city and get back in time for tea. It's very different for the local police to respond to that."
Europol said that police co-operation is vital if the crime wave is to be halted, The Times reported.
But they believe that the threat from Romanian gangs will not rise significantly when restrictions on the type of work Romanians and Bulgarians can do in the UK are lifted in January.
Between April and June this year, the number of people from those two nations working in the UK rose by nearly 26%, with 141,000 employed in that period compared to 112,000 in the previous three months, according to the Office for National Statistics.