Seven men arrested: Police break up criminal band

Seven men arrested : Police break up criminal band

Seven men, all of them brothers or cousins, were arrested as the result of an ongoing criminal investigation. They are suspected of coordinating efforts in more than 70 break-ins, specializing in home-jacking.

A five-person criminal investigation team called “Drive” and Bonn city prosecutors dealt a blow to organized crime. Seven men between the ages of 20 and 25, believed to be responsible for more than 70 break-ins and car thefts, are now sitting behind bars. Another arrest warrant has been issued for a suspect who is currently out of the country.

Rainer Bell, director of the criminal investigation unit 21, said they began following the trail of the criminal band in September after two incidents in Aegidienberg. One of them was a home-jacking where the burglars broke into the home at night, stealing car keys and a car. This and a separate burglary attempt helped lead police to the suspects.

On January 11, five places were searched in Cologne. There had been an arrest warrant out for five men and they were found and taken into custody. Another suspect had to be set free due to lack of evidence, reported Bell. Besides that, “an illegal person was arrested.”

Police acted again on Tuesday - this time including the town of Niederbachem. There, and in Cologne and Gummersbach, six apartments were searched and two more suspects taken into custody. Police found stolen items such as rings, watches, and camera equipment stolen from a car.

According to criminal investigation chief Norbert Wagner, members of the burglary ring were all from the same family, brothers or cousins, some of them already known to police. Most of them are “geduldete” asylum seekers which essentially means they are allowed to stay in Germany but they have not received asylum status. Most of them fled to Germany between 1992 and 1998 from former Yugoslavia.

Wagner said the band was especially mobile, operating from the lower Rhine to Rhineland-Pfalz, but also in the Benelux region and in France. One of their specialties was home-jacking. They worked together, dividing up the the work amongst the group: some stole cars, others falsified papers while further members broke into homes.

(Orig. text: Ayla Jacob)

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