Binnenwerk mobiel banditisme_2009


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Binnenwerk mobiel banditisme_2009

  1. 1. Itinerant groups target stores in European Union An urgent cross-border
  2. 2. Detailhandel Nederland is the umbrella organisation for all retail tradein the Netherlands. Its purpose is to optimise and strengthen the pro-motion of retailers’ interests in The Hague and Brussels.Detailhandel Nederland is the joint venture of the Netherlands RetailTrade Council (RND) and the National Retail Council of the DutchFederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MKB-Nederland).ColofonThis is a publication of:Detailhandel NederlandOvergoo 13Postbus 2622260 AG LeidschendamFor more information:Detailhandel NederlandHendrik Jan van Oostrum, Head of Brussels officeT 0032-2-7365830info@dedetailhandel.nlwww.dedetailhandel.nlT: 070 – 320 23 45Researcher:Robert van Geffen, Radboud University NijmegenAll rights reserved. The information in this research pamphletcan only be used with proper citation and written permission ofDetailhandel Nederland.Graphic design:Studio Steenbergen BNO, GoudaPrinting:Joh. Enschedé AmsterdamNovember, 2009­­­
  3. 3. Itinerant groupstarget stores inEuropean UnionAn urgent cross-border problem
  4. 4. ContentsPreface 5Summary 6Chapter 1: Itinerant crime groups as a form of criminality 9Chapter 2: Extent of the problem 13Chapter 3: Approach to itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands 25Chapter 4: International approach to itinerant crime groups 31Chapter 5: The Treaty of Lisbon and the changing role of the European Union 37Conclusions 41Recommendations 43Research justification 45
  5. 5. 4
  6. 6. PrefaceItinerant crime groups constitute a serious problem for retailers, bothin the Netherlands and in Europe as a whole. With the abolition ofborder controls in the European Union, it has not only become easierfor citizens to travel freely to other Member States, but also forcriminals. Retailers are confronted with this fact every day. In recentyears, they have been increasingly targeted by organised, itinerantcrime groups, also known as mobile groups, mainly from (South)Eastern Europe. Worryingly, the European Union has failed to tacklethis cross-border problem.The retail trade plays a prominent role in the European economy.The retail trade is a very important socio-economic player andemployer in the EU. However, retail crime is putting profit marginsunder increasing pressure and affecting retailers and employees. Retailcrime is bad for the economy and bad for society. Unfortunately, thesector has noted that the approach to itinerant crime groupsis inadequate in most of the Member States. At the European level,this form of crime is falling between two stools. The European policeand justice organisations, Europol and Eurojust, are concentrating onterrorism, drug smuggling and human trafficking. With this research,Detailhandel Nederland wants to initiate change. DetailhandelNederland is striving to put the subject high on the European agendaand thus force an effective approach to itinerant crime groups.This report describes the current approach to itinerant crime groupsand makes recommendations. From Brussels research was performedand practical examples and experiences were collected. DetailhandelNederland thus hopes to contribute to a joint solution. It should beemphasised here that a retail trade with less crime is not only good forretailers and their employees. Less crime is also good for the consumer,who is ultimately the one who largely pays for everything stolen fromstores.Mr. Patricia E.H. Hoogstraaten 5Chair of the Europe Committee of Detailhandel Nederland
  7. 7. Summary The retail trade in North West Europe is increasingly being plagued by itinerant crime groups, a trend also known as mobile banditry. These are mainly (South) Eastern European groups, which conduct series of crimes in a short space of time, mainly involving shoplifting, ram raids, hold- ups, payment card fraud and burglaries. Generally speaking, there are two types of itinerant crime groups. One type works on the basis of the ‘hit and run’ principle. This group travels to and from Western Europe to conduct its raids and returns within a day. The other itinerant crime groups are more organised and spend at least several days in another country on their crime sprees. In this second category, there is a fairly new trend whereby criminals stay with family or friends rather than in hotels or on camp sites. All the groups use more or less the same method. Distracting employees and inconspicuous behaviour are central to both. The perpetrators usually avoid violence, although violence seems to have been on the rise recently. In the Netherlands, the retail trade loses around € 250 million every year as a result of shop thefts and burglaries by these groups. In general, there has been a rise in the number of crimes and groups in recent years. The main targets of these crimes are cosmetics, clothing and DIY articles. Having started in the east of the Netherlands, the itinerant groups now operate throughout the Netherlands. Most of the perpe- trators in the Netherlands come from Poland, the Baltic States and Romania. The losses of the retail sector in the countries investigated amount to € 7.6 billion a year Itinerant crime groups are active in almost all the countries included in this report: the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Associations of retailers in these countries are seriously concerned about the damage these crime groups cause. Countries in Central Europe and the Baltic states are also targeted by itinerant crime groups, although the problem is less serious than in North West Europe. Almost everywhere, the trend seems to be an increase in the number of reports of mobile banditry. Annual losses resulting6 Summary
  8. 8. from shop thefts carried out by itinerant crime groups in thecountries under review total nearly € 7.6 billion.In the Netherlands, tackling itinerant crime groups is not a priorityfor the government and police. In some cases, a temporary policeteam may be created. However, such a team does not operate forlong enough to get a real grip on the problem. It only deals a tempo-rary blow. There is no structural approach. Information made availa-ble about offenders from abroad is often ignored. Furthermore,public prosecutors are rarely prepared to bring criminal chargesagainst offenders.The situation is similar in most European countries. Itinerant offen-ders are only identified incidentally when a project is started. OnlyBelgium seems to have been successful in prioritising the subject andinitiating collaboration between the government, police and retailtrade. The result has been the stabilisation and sometimes even adecline in retail crime by groups.At the European level, virtually no attention is currently devoted toitinerant crime groups. The only known research was a study carriedout by Europol into payment card fraud. The European Commissionwill start statistical research into criminality against business in2010.A European approach towards cross-border retail crime has failed toget off the ground. The reasons for this can be found in legislation,prioritisation, organisation structure and culture and a lack of mutu-al trust and capacity. Nevertheless, the Member States should easilybe able to focus on mobile banditry at the European level. For exam-ple, Europol could start research involving the collection and exchan-ge of information about the problem. A Joint Investigation Teamcould also be set up to facilitate operational cooperation. It is possi-ble to call on Europol and found a Joint Investigation Team on the ini-tiative of just two Member States. Summary 7
  9. 9. European cooperation is set to change soon due to the Treaty of Lisbon, whereby the European Commission and European Parliament will gain more control. In many areas relating to police and legal coo- peration, unanimous decision-making will be abolished in the Council of Member States. However, it cannot be expected that the Treaty of Lisbon can be of much practical use in tackling itinerant crime groups. The European Union will still be unable to take decisions about the operational deployment of police officers. The types of cross-border crime to be tackled will still be decided on the basis of unanimity. All in all, there does not seem to be a permanent approach towards itinerant offenders by police and the judiciary and the approach towards mobile groups in the Netherlands and Europe fails – despite the availability of technical resources. Based on this research, several recommendations can be made. For example, the retail trade must continue to invest in prevention and there must be more investment in cooperation with regional, national and supranational governments. For a really effective approach, the national government must give priority to itinerant crime groups. These groups not only affect the retail trade, they also impact on other groups in society, including citizens. This makes the issue even more urgent. In concrete terms, there is a need for a permanent police team specialised in this type of crime. Such teams should be set up in all Member States, creating centralised units and improving coordination. The government should also develop a long term vision, while information from home and abroad should always be used by police and the judiciary. At the European level, the Member States should commission Europol to investigate itinerant crime groups and the relevant Member States should then create a Joint Investigation Team.8 Summary
  10. 10. Chapter 1:Itinerant crimegroups as a form ofcriminality1. Types of itinerant crime groups 102. Composition and working methods 11 9
  11. 11. Before discussing the extent of the problem and the approach towards itinerant crime groups, it is important to explain what we mean by this phenomenon. The term ‘itinerant crime groups’ is defined differently at home and abroad. For this research, the main elements are combined. Itinerant crime groups are groups that: • commit series of shop thefts, ram raids, hold-ups, payment card fraud and burglaries, • mainly originating from (South) Eastern European countries, • commit many offences in a short space of time. The perpetrators are also responsible for house and car break-ins and thefts and plague other parts of industry. The criminal bosses often appear to be involved in human trafficking and drug smuggling besides retail crime. 1. Types of itinerant crime groups Generally speaking, there are two types of itinerant crime groups. Firstly, there are the groups which work on the basis of the ‘hit and run’ principle. These are roving groups which travel to Western Europe to do their business and return within a day. They often involve young people who commit a one-off offence. They use the proceeds to fund luxury articles or their studies. These young people are recruited by organised criminals whom they often meet through friends. These criminals are often known to the police in their homeland and are involved in mobile banditry as well as other forms of organised crime, such as human trafficking and drug smuggling. The young people usually travel by minibus to Western Europe in groups of three or four and often return within a day. These groups initially came from Poland and the Baltic states, but now also come from Romania and Bulgaria. The second form of mobile banditry is more organised and professional. These are groups who spend a short time (usually between a week and a month) in Western Europe, travelling long distances from one place during this period to carry out their raids. These offenders stay in motorway hotels, on camp sites or in bungalow parks. They are in regular contact with each other by mobile phone. Many groups spend several periods a year in Western Europe. These groups are often not independent, but are related to criminal organisations and a black market at home where the stolen goods are sold. Interestingly, these groups often come from the same town in the country of origin. For example, for a long time the Netherlands was targeted by10 Itinerant crime groups as a form of criminality
  12. 12. itinerant crime groups from the Polish town of Wroclaw.The groups are usually part of a wider criminal circuit. Within thiscircuit there are several key figures that keep in contact with andcoordinate the various groups. Criminal organisations that have beenrounded up consisted of 15 to sometimes 75 members.These criminal groups not only use their own transport, they also useinternational bus and train connections and to a lesser extentaeroplanes. There are indications that special buses are used totransport the criminals from Eastern Europe to Western Europe. Thecriminals are then picked up a week later by a new bus bringing anew group. The criminals spend the week shoplifting, begging andpickpocketing. Such activities have been reported by Belgium andDenmark, among others.Within this second category of more organised, professional mobilebanditry, a new trend can be observed. More reports are beingheard of actual migration from (South) Eastern Europe to other partsof Europe, mainly families from Romania and Bulgaria. Theseimmigrants then offer short-term accommodation to family andfriends with criminal intentions.2. Composition and working methodsMost groups consist of two to five people, mainly young men, butwomen may also be involved in the theft of cosmetics. The membersof the group have clear roles. The offenders come into the storesseparately so that they are not recognised as a group. Somemembers distract the personnel, while others fill their bags.Sometimes criminals remove goods from the view of the securitycamera after which they transfer them to another bag before leavingthe store. With respect to clothing theft, they may remove securitylabels in the fitting rooms or use prepared bags which do not set off Itinerant crime groups as a form of criminality 11
  13. 13. the alarm. If the offenders are noticed, they often respond very aggressively. In recent years, retailers have noted an increase in aggression by itinerant offenders. Outside the store, one of the offenders keeps watch, sometimes in a getaway car. The loot is then hidden in a prepared car or even buried in woodland until they return to their homeland. The groups often steal to order and have lists of cosmetics and designer clothing that they need to take. The organised nature of the crimes meant that last year the first offenders were convicted of belonging to a criminal organisation. This is a step forward in the fight against itinerant crime groups.12 Itinerant crime groups as a form of criminality
  14. 14. Chapter 2:Extent of the problem1. The Netherlands 142. Belgium 173. Germany 184. Rest of Europe 19 ???????????? 13
  15. 15. Besides causing losses to the retail trade, itinerant crime groups also cause social damage. Criminality in the retail trade is often considered an economic crime without casualties. In recent years, however, itinerant crime groups have been using more and more violence. Consequently, employees who have been victim to this violence may be unable to work for shorter or longer periods. Society partly pays for the consequences. For some retailers, the costs of losses and security may be so high that they have to close their store or departments. Store closures reduce the quality of life in a local community. The social function of local stores disappears and jobs are lost. The costs of prevention and losses suffered at the hand of itinerant crime groups must be met. There are two options here. On the one hand, it is possible for the retailers to pay the costs themselves. In view of the narrow margins in the retail trade, this may mean the difference between profit and loss for the business. On the other hand, the costs can also be passed on to the consumer. However, retailers do not usually choose to increase prices due to the fierce competition and strong market forces in the retail sector. This report focuses on the retail trade, but itinerant offenders are also involved in other forms of crime. This is the case in all the countries surveyed. Groups tend to be involved in car break-ins and thefts, house burglaries and pickpocketing. It is estimated that some 20% of all burglaries can be attributed to itinerant crime groups. In the Netherlands alone, that would mean 30,000 burglaries a year. In some areas of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, rounding up these kinds of groups resulted in a decline in the number of burglaries by several tens of percent. The rounding up of one group can often solve many crimes. Tackling these groups is therefore worthwhile. 1. The Netherlands 1.1 Extent of the damage Based on interviews with retailers in 2008, Detailhandel Nederland estimated the losses suffered at the hands of itinerant groups at € 220 million per year. This sum related to the total losses caused by itinerant groups, not just by shop thefts. This research indicates that this estimate reflects a lower limit and that actual losses are likely even higher.14 Extent of the problem
  16. 16. The Monitor Crime in the Business Sector (Monitor Criminaliteit Bedrijfsleven) provides anestimate based on a survey conducted by TNS NIPO relating to the number of thefts in theperiod 2004-2008. In recent years, an average of 1.4 million store thefts have been carried outon a yearly basis. The National Police Corps (Korps Landelijke Politiediensten, KLPD) assumesthat 35% of all store thefts are committed by itinerant, mobile groups. That means that 490,000store thefts are carried out by mobile groups every year.The project teams Polaris 1 and 2 of the National Criminal Investigation Service (Dienst NationaleRecherche), which have been occupied with mobile banditry for several years, registered the lootof several groups. Based on hundreds of registrations, an average haul of around € 420 per theftcan be estimated. Based on this calculation, the losses suffered at the hands of itinerant crimegroups are around € 206 million per year, just from store thefts. Almost all the groups describedin tracking dossiers come from Eastern Europe, according to the KLPD.An estimated 20 to 25% of all break-ins in the retail trade are committed by itinerant crimegroups. For the retail trade, that means losses of € 40 to € 50 million per year. In combinationwith losses for thefts from stores, the total losses at the hands of itinerant crime groups for theDutch retail trade come to around € 250 million per year.1.2 Increase or decreaseThe idea that mobile groups play a big part in retail crime is confirmed by retailers, police offi-cers and academics. Most retailers say that it has become a big problem particularly in recentyears. Cosmetics, clothing and DIY articles have been particularly targeted by mobile groups,with electronics stores suffering to a lesser extent.Since the accession of eight Eastern European Member States to the EU in 2004 and theabolition of a visa requirement for residents from these new EU Member States, the number ofcriminals, not necessarily store criminals, from Eastern Europe has risen significantly. Thisconcerned the accession of Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and theCzech Republic. Another, more modest increase in the number of Eastern European criminals,was the result of the accession of this group of eight countries to the Schengen Area at the endof 2007, with which regular border controls were abolished. The accession of Romania andBulgaria in January 2007 to the European Union also resulted in an increase in the number ofcriminals arrested from these countries, according to KLPD statistics. Extent of the problem 15
  17. 17. The following table shows the origin of arrested suspects. Most Eastern European offenders (70%) do not appear to reside in the Netherlands. According to the KLPD, they almost always work in groups as an itinerant crime group. The Polaris project team confirms that offenders from Eastern Europe very rarely operate alone, but in organised groups. Experts also indicate that an increase in Eastern Europeans can be observed in the prison population. Number of non-residents according to origin of suspected criminals 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Eastern Europe 3,397 3,746 3,733 3,798 4,827 Increase/decrease - + 10.3% -0.3% +1.7% + 27.1% (source: KLPD Landelijke criminaliteitskaart 2007, p. 193) 1.3 Offenders Store theft is by far the main form of property crime committed by Eastern Europeans. In recent years, the offenders have spread across the Netherlands. While the first reports mainly came from the east of the Netherlands, the problem has extended to other parts of the country in recent years. Medium-sized towns and villages seem to be the most frequent target, but big cities are now also being hit. This map shows where Eastern European groups suspected of store theft were arrested in the period between July 2006 and December 2007. The groups are mainly in the west, middle and south of the Netherlands. Interestingly, many crimes are committed near big thoroughfares. A typical expression is that the A1 highway in the Netherlands is the sewer of Europe. The origin of the offenders appears to be changing. Ten years ago, most Eastern European offenders came from Poland, Lithuania and the Balkans. A few suspects came from the Caucasus, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and even Mongolia. In 2006, the vast majority of Eastern European criminals came from Poland, but there was also an increase16 Extent of the problem
  18. 18. in the number of Romanians. Mobile banditry is still mainly attributed to Poland and theresidents of the Baltic states. Recently, the number of offenders from Romania and Bulgaria hasrocketed. These criminals are mainly involved in store thefts, skimming, muggings and pick-pocketing. The criminals involved in payment card fraud (skimming) are almost all from Romaniaand that is a growing problem, according to Europol.Suspects (aged 12 and over) according to origin 2006 Number of Number ofOrigin of suspects residents non-residentsPoland 787 1,939Former Czechoslovakia 142 152Hungary 171 72Baltic states 47 319Romania 118 348Bulgaria 91 306(Source: Rotterdam Institute for Social Policy Research, Risbo, Oost-Europeanen in Nederland, 2008)2. Belgium2.1 Extent of the damageIn Belgium, the extent of the problem of itinerant crime groups is similar to that in theNetherlands. The total losses caused by mobile groups in the retail trade are also around € 250million. According to the government, the percentage of business raids involving mobile groupsin Belgium is substantial at around 20-25%. The targets in Belgium are the same as in theNetherlands: cosmetics, clothing and DIY articles.2.2 Increase or decreaseThe problem seems to have stabilised in Belgium in recent years. After a peak in 2005/2006,the number of store thefts has remained the same in recent years and the number of ramraids has even declined significantly, according to UNIZO, the Belgian lobby organisation forindependent businesses. This picture is confirmed by several retailers in Belgium. Some businessowners indicate a slight increase, but in general the number of reports of itinerant offendersremains constant. Extent of the problem 17
  19. 19. Nationality of itinerant groups in 2005 Ex-Yugoslavs (23%) Romanians (22%) Albanians (21%) Others (8%) Poles (6%) Georgians (5%) Moldavians (4%) Lithuanians (3%) Croatians (2%) Russians (1%) Estonians (1%) (Source: Trimestrial report DJB) 2.3 Offenders There are some prominent differences between Belgium and the Netherlands with respect to the origin of the offenders. In Belgium, the groups tend to be from former Yugoslavia, Romania and Albania (together 66%) and less from Poland than in the Netherlands. The offenders mainly target big urban areas. 3. Germany 3.1 Extent of the damage In 2007, 400,000 store thefts were reported to the Bundeskriminalamt in Germany with 330,000 different suspects registered with the police. Of these, 70,000 were not of German origin. Of all the non-Germans, around 30% came from another EU member state. Suspects from Poland, Italy and Romania were the most commonly registered. Every year, around € 4 billion is stolen from the retail trade in Germany.18 Extent of the problem
  20. 20. On this basis, it can be concluded that at least € 250 million worth of goods are stolen from theGerman retail trade by residents of other EU countries. However, this sum should be clarified. Forexample, a large number of store thefts are not registered. In Germany, thefts only tend to bereported when the offender is known. Due the flexibility and mobility of itinerant offenders,relatively few thefts committed by them will be reported. The actual losses may therefore beseveral times higher. Discussions with internationally operating retailers show that the KLPD(Dutch Korps Landelijke Politiediensten) percentage of 35% of store thefts being committed bycrime groups is a realistic estimate for many European countries. This would mean losses inGermany of nearly € 1.4 billion a year. In Germany, thefts of cosmetic articles are mainly repor-ted. As in the Netherlands, these are mainly intended for the black market in the countries of origin.3.2 Increase or decreasePolice studies show that the extent of the problem has remained stable. Reports about organi-sed crime groups mention groups involved in store thefts. These show that the number of Polishgroups remains stable while the number of groups from Lithuania has declined significantly inrecent years. In contrast, groups from Romania show a strong increase and are heavily involvedin payment card fraud in Germany as well. Property crimes related to groups tend to be com-mitted by groups from Eastern Europe.3.3 OffendersThe offenders mainly seem to come from Poland and Romania. Relatively few store thefts arecommitted in the east of Germany and in the Ruhr conurbation.4. Rest of EuropeThis research shows that mobile banditry mainly occurs in (North) Western Europe, but alsooccurs in many other countries. Over the last five years, the problem has become increasinglyprevalent in Central and Eastern Europe. Besides the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, thisresearch also investigated the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark,Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.4.1 United KingdomThere has been a large increase in the number of immigrants from Eastern European MemberStates here. At the moment, there are almost one million immigrants from Eastern European Extent of the problem 19
  21. 21. origin. Around 10% of all suspects in the United Kingdom (UK) are now of Eastern European origin. These are mainly involved in store theft, pickpocketing and human trafficking. The number of cases of payment card fraud has also rocketed. Over 80% of these are thought to have been committed by Romanian groups. Retailers are increasingly hiring private security per- sonnel in order to keep Eastern European criminals at bay and are less inclined to call in the police. In addition, the UK is one of the few EU Member States which does not belong to the Schengen area and where border controls are still performed. These border controls could explain why there are no reports about the mass export of stolen goods as is the case in the Netherlands and Belgium. 4.2 France Research in the Netherlands into itinerant crime groups also found various offenders who were also active in France. Furthermore, stolen vehicles from France were sometimes used in the Netherlands. France itself reports a strong increase in criminality by itinerant crime groups. 4.3 Italy In Italy, active groups tend to come from Romania and Albania. The extent of the problem has not been assessed, but there are many reports of groups that stay in Italy either temporarily or for a longer term. As has been mentioned, these groups are mainly from Romania and Albania, but have links with Moldavia, Russia and the Ukraine. The groups are less known in Italy for their wide scale store thefts and more for their car thefts and house burglaries. Italy seems to be an attractive country due to the large population of Romanians who live there. It is estimated that the number of Romanians living here doubled in 2008 to nearly one million. 4.4 Spain No specific figures are known from Spain about the phenomenon of itinerant crime groups. However, there are reports of raids and robberies carried out by groups from Romania and Albania. These not only target stores and businesses, but also villas. The wave of very violent villa burglaries that plagued the Spanish coast in recent years is the best known example of these. Most of the arrested EU citizens in Spain come from Romania. 4.5 Sweden In Sweden, mobile banditry is a well-known phenomenon. There are no figures relating to total losses, but many organised groups track through the country. The problem has increased in recent years. Offenders tend to come from Poland and the Baltic states. Here too, the20 Extent of the problem
  22. 22. phenomenon of Romanian skimmers appears. There are also reports of Russians who are flownin for one day to carry out various raids. This last phenomenon occurs in several countries. Mobilebanditry is not well registered in Sweden, due to the sensitive nature of registering nationalityin the country.4.6 DenmarkMobile banditry also occurs in Denmark. In the past, groups tended to spend the summer monthsin Denmark, but groups are currently active all year round. Last year, the Danish police was awareof twenty of such groups. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number ofitinerant crime groups. This is confirmed by the Danish national police. In the past two years,the total number of store thefts in Denmark has risen by 20% (this is probably not totallyattributable to the itinerant groups). Romanians have been particularly well represented in thepast year. The police also arrested people from Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Balticstates. As in the Netherlands, most criminals stay on camp sites, in hostels or sleep in their car.4.7 SwitzerlandAlthough Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it was included in this research because it ispart of the Schengen area. Switzerland is aware of the phenomenon of itinerant crime groupsand has noted an increase in the problem in recent years. In particular, groups from SouthEastern Europe (Albania and Macedonia) are active here. Thefts and break-ins are also regularlycommitted by groups from the Caucasus. Nearly half of all thefts are committed by non-Swissnationals, not always in a group context.4.8 AustriaIn Austria, the phenomenon has become well known in recent years and there are many reportsof groups. An increase in the problem has been observed. The country is mainly targeted bygroups from Romania, the Ukraine and Georgia.4.9 GreeceThe Greek government is not aware of a widespread problem. It is only aware of groups guilty ofskimming, which have become much more active in recent years.4.10 EstoniaThe Estonian government is not familiar with the phenomenon of itinerant crime groups.However, retailers have observed a strong upsurge in this form of crime in recent years. The main Extent of the problem 21
  23. 23. perpetrators are Ukrainian groups who operate quite blatantly. Apparently, organised raids are carried out through the Baltic states whereby as many as 10 stores a day are targeted. 4.11 Czech Republic and Slovakia As with the Baltic states, there are varying reports from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Slovakian government is apparently unfamiliar with the trend of itinerant crime groups. There would even seem to be a decline in retail crime since the accession to the European Union. However, the retail trade itself reports differently. The sector indicates an increase of criminals mainly from Romania. The phenomenon of itinerant Romanian families involved in store criminality in these countries has been well known for some time. In recent years, however, this phenomenon has changed and now involves Romanian gypsy groups who have no family relations, but a more organised character. 4.12 Poland There are no reports in Poland of itinerant crime groups. Retailers do not report any problems with this phenomenon. However, the retailers do experience fierce competition with the black markets where stolen goods from other countries are traded.22 Extent of the problem
  24. 24. Itenerant crime groups;the development of the problem Increasing problem in last ten years Increasing problem in last five years Stabilising problem in last five years Extent of the problem 23
  25. 25. 4.13 General trends Research highlights some general trends. Mobile banditry occurs in almost all the countries studied. The phenomenon is strongly present in North West Europe. Southern countries are also affected. In the last five years, this form of crime has also appeared in Central and Eastern Europe. In the countries in North West Europe, the offenders tend to come from Poland, the Baltic states and to a lesser extent from Romania. This last group has started to grow significantly. In the southern countries, criminals from the Balkans and increasingly Romania are active. In Central and Eastern Europe, the offenders tend to come from the former Soviet Union and Romania. Every year, the Centre for Retail Research publishes a barometer in which the total losses from retail crime in countries all over the world are calculated. Based on this barometer, the losses in the countries studied in this report in 2008 amounted to € 21.8 billion. The Dutch Korps Landelijke Politiediensten (KLPD) indicates that itinerant crime groups are responsible for around 35% of the total losses resulting from thefts in the retail trade. Retailers operating in several EU Member States consider this to be a realistic estimate for the countries in which they are active. Based on this 35%, the losses for the retail trade in 2008 caused by itinerant crime groups in countries studied in this report total € 7.6 billion. This concerns losses caused by itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. For comparison: according to Eurostat, the total turnover of the retail trade in the countries studied was € 2,117 billion in 2008. Against this background, losses resulting from itinerant crime groups of over € 7.6 billion (or 0.36% of the total turnover) do not seem particularly big. However, it must be remembered that profit margins in the retail trade tend to be very low. Therefore, losses caused by itinerant crime groups are quite a substantial cost item. In an important number of cases, these costs will mean the difference between profit and loss for the individual retailer.24 Extent of the problem
  26. 26. Chapter 3:Approach to itinerantcrime groups in theNetherlands1. The retail trade 262. The government 273. The police and judiciary 284. Conclusion 30 ???????????? 25
  27. 27. The problem of itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands is not currently a government priority. It is important to list which measures have been taken in the past and which could still be taken. The role of the retail trade, the government and the police will hereby be addressed. 1. The retail trade The retail trade is the victim of itinerant crime groups and suffers losses at their hands. The sector is therefore investing substantially in prevention: nearly € 300 million every year. In the countries studied, this amounts to € 6.5 billion (source: Retail Theft Barometer). These investments are aimed at tackling all forms of retail crime, not just mobile banditry. For a sector with small margins like the retail trade, this is a huge burden. Businesses invest differently in security and theft prevention. The approach to itinerant crime groups is generally part of a wider approach to retail crime. Various measures are taken. For example, retailers invest in training their personnel. Employees thus become more aware of store theft and can anticipate it. This is noted by (potential) thieves. This training also helps trace the offenders. Because employees are prepared for threatening situations, they are better able to remember characteristics of the offenders. A lot of money is also invested in technological prevention. Camera systems, security gates and burglar alarm installations are examples of these. In addition, products themselves are secured with labels and chips. Depending on the size of the company, businesses often have a department with one or more personnel responsible for assessing the risks for stores and making recommendations. These security managers focus on procedures relating to cash registers and safes in the stores and amend them where necessary to optimise security. Some retailers even have their own security centre, which constantly monitors all stores. Stores make architectural adjustments to prevent burglaries and ram raids. Stores also adjust their stocks. Fewer in-store stocks mean less loot in big thefts by mobile groups. Retailers indicate a reduction in the haul of these groups in recent years. In contrast, the number of thefts is rising, meaning that the total losses have increased. Many retailers also feel the need to install physical security in their stores. Millions of euros are spent every year on hiring professional security personnel. Sometimes mobile intervention teams are used. These are teams that travel all over the country so that they can support stores quickly in the event of problems.26 Approach to itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands
  28. 28. The retail trade realises that this battle cannot be won alone. It therefore regularly cooperateswith the government and police. The results of this cooperation are mixed.2. The governmentThe Dutch government does not undertake structural action against itinerant crime groups,despite repeated urging by the House of Representatives. In response, the minister of Justice andthe minister of the Interior and Kingdom Affairs have emphasised that they do not under-estimate the problem of itinerant crime groups and that there is good cooperation within theDutch police. It is claimed that cooperation can be achieved by starting up supra-regionalcriminal investigation teams. In reality, however, this is more difficult to do. Starting up such ateam is so time consuming and difficult that it is often not attempted. Furthermore, onewonders whether a project approach can be effective. The projects relating to itinerant crimegroups that have been launched so far may have produced good results, but they only deliverone blow. A long term approach is needed. This is confirmed by staff at the KLPD. The problemassociated with past projects was their short duration. This meant they were forced to stop afteraround a year, just when they were starting to get a good picture of itinerant crime groups.The government feels that the retail trade sector should address the problem itself. Here,ignorance about the extent of the problem will play a role. The measures undertaken by retailersare limited and more rigorous action by police and judiciary is required. Retailers want to do thistogether with the government. The capacity of police and judiciary seems to be the biggestobstacle to tracing itinerant crime groups. Police and the Public Prosecution service havesufficient authorisation. Property offences like retail crime are given little or no priority. Politicsand government should ask themselves whether the capacity of the police is currently sufficientand whether it should be extended. Extra policy has no added value at the moment. More public-private ventures and the use of existing resources are valuable, however. Public-private collaboration is also considered important by the Netherlands Centre for CrimePrevention and Community Safety. This collaboration should produce a risk analysis aboutthe future of mobile banditry in the Netherlands. Approach to itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands 27
  29. 29. Problems in prosecuting itinerant offenders Besides the fact that the chance of arresting them is very small and the number of convictions few, it is almost impossible to extradite EU residents from the country. As many group members come from EU Member States, this is a problem. According to a letter from the State Secretary of Justice in 2007, among others, it is only possible to extradite people who “form a current, real and sufficiently serious threat to a fundamental interest of society”. In view of the fact that this involves very serious crimes and terrorism, it cannot be expected that multiple, wide scale store thieves will soon be extradited from the Netherlands on this basis. The state secretary does mention a few options that would make it less easy for foreigners who are difficult to extradite to reoffend. The accumulation of criminal facts and sentences whereby they can be locked away for longer is central to this. This could contribute to the reduction in the number of itinerant offenders (letter from state secretary of Justice to the House of Representatives, 13 August 2007). In Italy, a start was made with the extradition of groups of criminal Romanians in 2007. In response to this, the European Commission indicated that this was within the rules if the criminals disturbed public order. 3. The police and judiciary The police have limited capacity and are thus not able to give attention to all forms of crime. However, a preventive approach by the retail trade must be followed by a repressive approach by police and judiciary. Criminality can only partly be tackled by prevention, but itinerant crime groups are not always frightened off by cameras or security gates. At the moment, the police tend to handle retail crime committed by Eastern European offenders as incidents. This means that the offenders may be back on the street within several hours and subsequently disappear into anonymity. In cases where the police do conduct investigations and organised links are found, the Public Prosecution service is often unwilling to instigate proceedings. This happened in the case of Polaris 2. In police circles, it was indicated that the Public Prosecution service saw little in the case and let various matters drop. The fact that proceedings by the Public Prosecution service can produce results was proved in 2008 when a legal judgement was made about a criminal group in Soest. At the arrest of a Polish shoplifter, it appeared that she was part of a group. Arrests were made and the loot was also found. The court judged that this group was not only guilty of group theft but also part of a criminal organisation. The sentence could thus be extended and the offenders put behind bars for longer.28 Approach to itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands
  30. 30. Bureau Beke, an independent research company, reports that itinerant crime groups in theNetherlands have low priority and that the police indicate that it is a problem for the retailers.The crimes committed by the groups are property offences with limited consequences in the eyesof the police and Public Prosecution service on account of the lack of violence in most cases. Inview of the lack of priority given to such offences and the lack of capacity, the matter is notinvestigated further. This also resulted in the abolition of the Polaris teams. Between 2003-2005and 2006-2007, two project teams - Polaris 1 and 2 - operated in the supra-regional criminalinvestigation Noordoost Nederland and the KLPD, which focused on itinerant crime groups.Although the Polaris 2 staff recommended restarting the project, tackling itinerant crime groupswas stopped. These project staff even indicated that such a team should become a standard partof the KLPD. Yet the Supra-regional Investigation Forum (Bovenregionaal Recherche Overleg)decided not to give further priority to this form of crime, despite the fact that no decline in storethefts or groups was observed. Pressure from the House of Representatives was to no availeither.One result was that criminals themselves advertised that they could operate easily in countrieslike the Netherlands and Germany. Nor were they deterred by the prisons or the lenient senten-ces currently imposed. Interviews with the Latvian police showed that they have a great deal ofinformation about criminal bosses and potential couriers. The police send this information to theNetherlands, which subsequently fails to use it. It is not clear why this is the case. Perhaps theDutch police lack faith in Eastern European police. However, any reason for scepticism appearsunfounded from previous experiences in cooperation. Polaris 2 experienced good informationexchange with government departments from other European countries when required.Conversations with police and other experts indicate that the Netherlands has the technicalresources to effectively trace itinerant crime groups. For example, there is the computer programBlueView, which can search for the background of offenders in all computer systems of thevarious police regions. This shows whether an offender from Eastern Europe has also committeda crime in another part of the Netherlands. It can also be investigated whether many offenderscome from a single place. This could point to activities of an itinerant crime group. Retailers canalso assist the police. Many retailers register crimes committed in their store. Good cooperationbetween the retail trade and the police can achieve better results. Furthermore, readouts of thetelephones of suspects can be very effective in charting the networks. In this way, activities ofvarious criminals can be linked. Approach to itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands 29
  31. 31. 4. Conclusion After studying the actions of the Dutch government, police and judiciary against mobile banditry, it can be concluded that the problem does not have priority. Information provided from abroad is not used and even when the police or retailers submit cut-and-dried cases to the judiciary, prosecutions seldom take place. In view of the extent of the losses and the relative ease with which such crimes can be tackled, this is remarkable. The technical resources exist and the capacity required is fairly modest. On average, the Polaris 2 team operated with five staff members and was able to chart many itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands. The results in tracing and prosecution are impressive. In many cases, retail crime declines sig- nificantly.30 Approach to itinerant crime groups in the Netherlands
  32. 32. Chapter 4:Internationalapproach to itinerantcrime groups1. Attention within the Member States 322. Attention at the European level 333. Problems with European cooperation 334. Possibilities for a European approach 35 ???????????? 31
  33. 33. Europe virtually ignores the phenomenon of mobile banditry. It is seen as a form of national criminality with which the EU does not get involved. However, there is a clear cross-border component to the problem and European Union involvement would therefore be more than justified. The national organisations of retailers should therefore urge their governments to lobby for a European approach. 1. Attention within the Member States In this research, various countries in Europe were studied, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In almost all the countries studied, there are examples of local and regional initiatives to tackle itinerant offenders. These concern temporary projects which usually produce good results. However, this is not a structural approach. Belgium is an exception here. At the end of the 1990s, Belgium was the first country to concern itself with mobile banditry. The existen- ce of this phenomenon was then established, also in studies into criminality on the Belgian-French border. This was the incentive to study the phenomenon further. The Belgian government subsequently drew up a policy and gave priority to the problem. The policy mainly focuses on preventing crime related to private proper- ty such as house burglaries and car thefts, but there is also good cooperation between the Belgian government, the police and the Belgian retail trade. Since 2008, there has been someone responsible for dealing with itinerant crime groups at all levels in the police and justice system. Everyone knows who that person is and this phenomenon is tackled at all levels. At the local level, meetings are organised so that government authorities, police and entrepreneurs can get to know each other better. In addition, entrepreneurs can request visits from police advisors to recommend technological means of crime prevention. More neighbourhood information networks are also set up whereby entrepreneurs and the police tell each other about the activities of itinerant crime groups. This is also32 International approach to itinerant crime groups
  34. 34. supported by local authorities. Together, threats are charted, where-by the entrepreneurs play an important role.2. Attention at the European levelNearly all the retailers involved in this study see a role for Europein tackling mobile banditry. This mainly concerns setting up aninformation exchange between Member States and in some casesproperly joining forces in operations. At the European level, there aretwo developments in the field of mobile banditry. Firstly, a study iscurrently being conducted on behalf of the European Commission.This study charts how the European Commission can collectcomparable statistics about cross-border crime targeting business.The European Commission hopes to start actual data collection aboutthis form of crime in 2010.Europol is currently also conducting research into payment cardfraud, i.e. ‘skimming.’ This form of crime occurs throughout theEuropean Union, mainly by Romanian groups. This research thusconcentrates on one activity of mobile banditry.3. Problems with European cooperationThere are still barriers to achieving cooperation between MemberStates. In recent years, attempts have been made to change this. Oneexample is the Treaty of Prüm. This Treaty provides for betterinformation exchange and operational cooperation between thecountries involved. This will facilitate the exchange of car registrationdata, for example, and enable police officers to cross the border inthe fight against criminals.In the coming years, more such steps should be taken. But theMember States are not always prepared to do their utmost to tacklemobile banditry. Member States are strongly inclined to protect theirsovereignty with regard to police and judiciary. They feel that their International approach to itinerant crime groups 33
  35. 35. sovereignty could be affected by cross-border cooperation. If the Member States fail to act together, it is the criminals who will benefit. Without a good national approach to mobile banditry in the Member States, there can be no high expectations at the European level. The European Union can promote cooperation, but it remains the jurisdiction of the Member States. It is not possible to force the Member States to devote attention to the subject. Besides legal barriers, there are also other issues preventing cross-border, European cooperation. An important problem is the difference in priorities between Member States. This often appears to be one of the major issues in practice. Because police services in the various Member States all have different priorities when tackling crime, cooperation may not get off the ground. Furthermore, trust between Member States can be an issue in cooperation, particularly lack of trust between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Member States, although there is no reason for this. In cases where cooperation between Member States is sought, it often appears to work well. Countries like Bulgaria, Poland and Lithuania are happy to contribute to research studies. In some cases, requests for information via Europol were honoured within an hour. In many cases, the police in Eastern European countries already have some ideas about the bosses and criminals involved in mobile banditry. This information is often forwarded, but usually not used by Dutch police. This also damages trust in each other. The Eastern European police tend not to consider the Dutch police as good partners. Besides trust, the Member States also have differences in organisation and culture. This forms a greater problem than jurisdictions and options. Cooperation also concerns capacity. It is sometimes necessary to invest time in a case from abroad that has no immediate benefit. The realisation of the importance of this seems to be growing. This would be a positive development in the fight against itinerant crime groups.34 International approach to itinerant crime groups
  36. 36. 4. Possibilities for a European approach4.1 EuropolAn enhanced role for Europol is often mentioned as a means totackle mobile banditry. At the moment, the smallest commondenominator in this organisation determines the policy, Europolconfirms. Member States must make use of this organisation, alsowith respect to itinerant crime groups. This does not happen at themoment. Europol is only involved in 5% of all cases of cross-bordercontacts due to police collaboration.This may improve. The Stockholm Programme, in which the EuropeanUnion approach to police and judicial cooperation for the next fiveyears is documented, will - if the European Commission has its way -strengthen the role of Europol. The European Commission’s proposalwants information received through cross-border contacts to beautomatically passed on to Europol.If research is started at Europol, the main condition is that theMember States supply sufficient information. Dutch police officerswith experience in exchanging information via Europol alsoemphasise the importance of this organisation. At the moment,Europol is mainly engaged in exchanging information and compilinginformation dossiers. It is not expected that Europol will be given itsown operational service in the short term. Such a move is opposedby the Member States because a European criminal investigationagency of this kind could get in the way of national police andjudicial organisations.It is also debatable to what extent a Europol operational agencycould actually supply the custom work required. Europol, andincidentally also Eurojust, are facilitating organisations andMember States often fail to use them. As Eurojust does not haveits own facilities for independently prosecuting internationallyoperating criminals, this organisation cannot be expected to make International approach to itinerant crime groups 35
  37. 37. any real contribution to the fight against itinerant crime groups. In the struggle against mobile banditry, research could be started at Europol. This is possible on the initiative of two Member States. Consent and involvement of all Member States is not required for this. 4.2 Joint Investigation Teams At the moment, Joint Investigation Teams can be set up to tackle cross-border crime problems. In these teams, different countries can work together to deal with a cross-border form of crime. Europol can also be involved in this form of collaboration. However, working in these teams has its problems. Sharing information often tends to be difficult. The people who actually work with the dossiers generally prefer to work through a trusted network with whom they have already built up a working relationship. Exchanging information with an unknown foreign colleague is unusual. However, when there is good cooperation within the Teams and where Europol is involved, the teams regularly prove to be an effective means of tackling cross-border problems. This is a second resource which can be used in the fight against itinerant crime groups.36 International approach to itinerant crime groups
  38. 38. Chapter 5:The Treaty of Lisbonand the changingrole of the EuropeanUnion ???????????? 37
  39. 39. On the 2nd of October 2009 Ireland by referendum accepted the Treaty of Lisbon, after having first rejected it in 2008. Assuming that Poland and the Czech Republic will now as last of the group of 27 Member States ratify the Treaty in the months to come, the Treaty could entry into force early 2010. This would result in an important institutional change in the European Union with respect to police and judicial cooperation. This could have important consequences for the fight against mobile banditry. For this reason, we look ahead. The main change is that everything related to police and judicial cooperation will in principle be decided by means of the co-decision procedure. This means that the European Parliament becomes the co-legislator. The Commission will be the prime initiator (Member States can only make proposals jointly) and decisions in the Council are generally adopted with majority vote. The right of veto thus disappears in most cases and that can speed up decision-making. Yet some obstacles have been built into the Treaty of Lisbon aimed at preventing Member States from losing too much influence. For example, at the European level no decisions can be made about the deployment of police officers and Member States are not obliged to deploy capacity to prevent certain forms of crime. Furthermore, decisions must always be unanimous with regard to what forms of cross-border crime must be tackled. Finally, the Member States have an ‘emergency brake’ which can be used if they feel that their country’s legal system is being hit too hard by the measures. The changes, and particularly the reservations relating to a number of areas in the Treaty of Lisbon, are not expected to alter much at the European level in the fight against mobile banditry. The modifications in the Treaty concern changes to the decision-making process. Issues which are crucial for a joint approach to mobile banditry, such as a joint operational approach to the problem, are not included in the Treaty.38 The Treaty of Lisbon and the changing role of the European Union
  40. 40. With respect to the Commissions right of initiative, little will changein practice. The possibility for an individual Member State to submitits own initiative bill will be abolished. In practice, however, verylittle use is made of this option. At the moment, nearly all theinitiatives are taken by the European Commission. The EuropeanParliament is involved in the legislation as co-legislator. Not havingbeen involved as co-legislator in recent years, it is important thatthey develop their competences in this field in the coming years.Unanimity will be abolished in the Council in many cases. In practice,however, consensus is still often sought. Big countries in particularseem to oppose far-reaching police and judicial cooperation. Thereare also great differences with respect to priority and culturebetween Member States which hinders cooperation at anoperational level. The Treaty will not change this. Neither will theTreaty of Lisbon affect the lack of trust between police and justicedepartments. Furthermore, it is debatable whether decision-makingin the European Union will become faster as a result of the Treaty.The question is more whether the shared legislative authority bet-ween the Council and the Parliament will slow down legislation. Inthe coming years, no specific legislation at the European level is to beexpected in the field of mobile banditry. The Treaty of Lisbon shouldbe seen as the next step in growing cooperation between MemberStates in the field of police and judiciary. The Treaty of Lisbon and the changing role of the European Union 39
  41. 41. 40
  42. 42. ConclusionsThis research shows that itinerant crime groups constitute a major, cross-border problem forthe retail trade. It is a phenomenon that occurs in almost all European countries and thereforedeserves attention at both national and European levels. Throughout the European Union,nearly 31 million people work in the retail trade in 6.2 million businesses with a total turnoverof around € 1,274 billion. The losses suffered by the European retail trade at the hands ofitinerant crime groups are substantial. On a yearly basis, losses amount to over € 7.6 billion inthe countries studied. In these countries, this is around 35% of the total losses incurred throughstore theft, which totals € 21.8 billion. The retail trade is aware of its own responsibility and withinvestments in security totalling over € 6.5 billion in 2008 in the countries studied, the sectoraccepts this responsibility too.However, this situation cannot continue. The governments, police and judiciary in particularmust also accept their responsibility and reach agreements with the retail trade about how thisform of crime can be tackled. At the moment, the subject does not seem to have priority in mostMember States in the European Union. Where priority is given to mobile banditry, the partiesinvolved are generally happy with the cooperation. A local and national approach is vital,whereby knowledge about the size and working methods of the groups is important.At the European level too, attention can be devoted to the problem. Information exchange anda joint operational approach are among the possibilities. No new legislation is required for this.Neither will the Treaty of Lisbon have much impact on the fight against itinerant crime groups.It is important that the Member States mainly deploy the resources which currently exist.Agreeing on priorities, capacity deployment and improving mutual trust are essential to achievegood results in cross-border cooperation.Mobile banditry is a form of crime that affects all parts of society, not just the retail trade. It istherefore vital that itinerant crime groups are tackled in order to offer both citizens andbusiness owners a safer living and working environment. 41
  43. 43. 42
  44. 44. RecommendationsRecommendations are given at three levels: local, national and European. The recommendationsfor national level primarily focus on the Netherlands, but some can also be applied in otherEuropean countries.Local• The retail trade must continue to invest in preventive measures. Training store personnel, introducing technological aids and in some cases recruiting professional security personnel to keep thieves at bay are still necessary to tackle retail crime in general and itinerant groups in particular.• The local government, police and the retail trade must cooperate better in tackling mobile banditry. Information must be passed on sooner. Also, permits for improved security, such as installing ram pillars, should be issued faster. This can prevent crime by mobile groups.• The police and the Public Prosecutions service should always handle reports of large-scale store thefts and be aware of the presence of mobile groups. They must also use all available (technical) means to tackle mobile groups. Reading out mobile phones is an example of this.National• Mobile banditry must be made a priority by the Supra-regional Investigation Forum. This will promote a national approach to the phenomenon.• A permanent, national team should be set up to tackle itinerant groups. This team should primarily be engaged in collecting information about mobile groups and charting networks. These teams should also be set up in other Member States. These teams can then liaise with other Member States, improving coordination.• The permanent national team should not only deal with offenders from Lithuania and Poland, as was the case with Polaris, but include many more (South) Eastern European nationalities in their investigations.• The government must commission a risk analysis into the future of mobile banditry in the Netherlands and on that basis develop a long-term vision for tackling the problem.• Punishments for taking part in mobile banditry must be increased and more effort must be made in criminal proceedings to convict the offenders for all offences. At the moment, cases are too often dropped, whereby punishments are lower. 43
  45. 45. • Cases passed on by police and the retail trade to the judiciary must always lead to a trial. Failure to prosecute in cases where the guilty party is clear is unacceptable. • The Dutch police must always seriously consider information from abroad about criminal activities. This can prevent retail crime and speed up conviction of offenders. European • Member States should lobby for research (Analytical Work File) at Europol. This could be initiated by two Member States and improve information exchange about mobile banditry between Member States. It also helps chart the extent of the problem. • A Joint Investigation Team about mobile banditry should be started by various Member States. This will facilitate an operational approach to the problem. • The Member States should jointly formulate mobile banditry as a priority in the struggle against cross-border crime. • The Member States should more often exchange ‘best practices’ about tackling itinerant groups. • Member States should introduce a European criminal record. This will make it easier for employers to see if job applicants have been convicted of cross-border crime, for example. This will scare off potential store thieves because they will later be restricted on the labour market. • On the accession of new Member States, the European Union must be aware of the consequences this can have for cross-border (store) crime. The open borders with new Member States not only allow citizens to travel freely to other Member States, but also criminals.44 Recommendations
  46. 46. Research justificationDue to the lack of research into the phenomenon of mobile groups, only limited material isavailable to assess the extent of the problem. After analysing earlier studies, requesting relevantdata and contacts with experts, a reliable assessment was made of the problem in theNetherlands. Assessments were also made for other countries. The study confirmed that it is asizeable and increasing problem that deserves international attention.The countries included in this study were chosen because they give a representative picture oftheir region and thus of Europe as a whole. Countries from Northern, Central, Eastern, Southernand particularly Western Europe were used. However, the emphasis lies on Western Europe, asthis is where the problem appears to be greatest. All of the big countries are therefore includedin the study.This report is the result of four months of intensive research. For this research, on the requestof Detailhandel Nederland, Robert van Geffen of the Radboud University Nijmegen contactedmany experts and people involved. Besides the cooperation of sister organisations in otherEuropean Member States, he contacted retailers, politicians, civil servants, police organisationsand academics. We would like to thank everyone who cooperated in this study. Due to this widerange of experts and people involved, the problem could be viewed from various angles. Relevantdocuments and policy reports were also studied. An overview of people and organisationsinvolved in interviews and conversations is given below. Some of them – for example thenational and international retailers which cooperated on this project – would like to remainanonymous. For those which agreed on publicizing their names, we explicitly state that this doesnot necessarily mean that they support the conclusions of this report.Retail trade organisations:• FEDIS (Belgium) • Confcommercio (Italy)• UNIZO (Belgium) • Detailhandel Nederland (Netherlands)• Danskerhverv (Denmark) • CEC (Spain)• EuroCommerce (Europe) • Svensk Dagligvaruhandel (Sweden)• FCD (France) • BRC (UK)• HDE (Germany) 45
  47. 47. Security companies: T.M.C. Asser Institute Bureau Beke Transcrime Dutch Association of Insurers Centre for Crime Prevention and Community Safety WODC National Platform for Crime Control KLPD International Police Cooperation Service (Dienst IPOL), Polaris 2 team Ministry of Justice (Netherlands and Belgium) Judicial Federal Police (Belgium) ZNW Prevention & Safety (Belgium) European Crime Prevention Network Europol Eurojust European Police Chiefs Task Force CEPOL / Police Academy European Criminal Bar Association European Commission Netherlands Permanent Representation in Brussels Baden-Württembergse Permanent Representation in Brussels Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert, VVD MEP Sophie in ’t Veld, D66 MEP Professor at University of Tilburg Researcher Vrije Universiteit Monica den Boer, extraordinary professor Vrije Universiteit, vice president of Clingendael Institute, dean of Police Academy Gert Vermeulen, professor at University of Ghent Dina Siegel, researcher Willem Pompe Instituut Utrecht Stijn van Daele, researcher University of Ghent Tom vander Beken, professor at University of Ghent46 Research justification
  48. 48. Many relevant documents and policy documents were involved in this research, including:• Detailhandel Nederland (2008). Nationaal onderzoek winkelcriminaliteit 2007. Leidschendam: Detailhandel Nederland• WODC. (2008/2009). Monitor Criminaliteit Bedrijfsleven 2007/2008. Amsterdam: TNS NIPO/WODC• KLPD - Dienst IPOL (2008). Georganiseerde Bovenregionale Vermogenscriminaliteit 2008. Rotterdam: Thieme MediaCenter• KLPD - Dienst IPOL (2008). Landelijke criminaliteitskaart 2007. Rotterdam: Thieme MediaCenter• Risbo (2008). Oost Europeanen in Nederland. Rotterdam: EUR/Risbo• Dienst Nationale Recherche Informatie/Dienst IPOL (2004-2008). Nationaal Dreigingsbeeld 2004/2008. Zoetermeer: Dienst Nationale Recherche Informatie• Retail Theft Barometer• Eurostat (2009). Share of motor, wholesale and retail trades in total distributive trades in terms of turnover.• Federale Politie België (2007). De aanpak van rondtrekkende offendergroeperingen: een actualisatie. Brussels: Federale Politie• Vermeulen, G. e.a. (2003). Criminaliteit in de Frans-Belgische grensregio. Antwerp: Maklu• Ruyver, B. de (2005). Presentation itinerant groups.• Bundeskriminalamt (2008). Polizeiliche kriminalstatistik 2007. Wiesenbaden: Bundeskriminalamt• Bundeskriminalamt (2006, 2008). Bundeslagebild organisierte kriminalität 2005/2007. Wiesenbaden: Bundeskriminalamt• Hessisches Landeskriminalamt (2005). Polizeiliche kriminalstatistik Hessen 2004. Wiesbaden: Hessischen Landeskriminalamt Research justification 47
  49. 49. 48
  50. 50. Detailhandel Nederland is the umbrella organisation for all retail tradein the Netherlands. Its purpose is to optimise and strengthen the pro-motion of retailers’ interests in The Hague and Brussels.Detailhandel Nederland is the joint venture of the Netherlands RetailTrade Council (RND) and the National Retail Council of the DutchFederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MKB-Nederland).ColofonThis is a publication of:Detailhandel NederlandOvergoo 13Postbus 2622260 AG LeidschendamFor more information:Detailhandel NederlandHendrik Jan van Oostrum, Head of Brussels officeT 0032-2-7365830info@dedetailhandel.nlwww.dedetailhandel.nlT: 070 – 320 23 45Researcher:Robert van Geffen, Radboud University NijmegenAll rights reserved. The information in this research pamphletcan only be used with proper citation and written permission ofDetailhandel Nederland.Graphic design:Studio Steenbergen BNO, GoudaPrinting:Joh. Enschedé AmsterdamNovember, 2009­­­
  51. 51. Itinerant groups target stores in European Union An urgent cross-border