Atlantic Ocean. Refurbished phones: an international theft network dismantled

Eleven people were arrested between November 2021 and June 2022. © DR

The night between Sunday, September 20, 2020, to Monday, September 21, 2020, the premises of a company specializing in the renovation of phones Apple Iphone was robbed in Poilley in the Manche department.

That video surveillance on the spot made it possible to ascertain that five persons had cut the fence for the fencing of the place, then the cladding of a workshop. Inside, they stole 2,600 mobile phones, refurbished or being refurbished, for a total loss of 320,000 euros.

The Caen Research Section, seized from the beginning of the investigation, carried out, supported by the Central Office for Fight Against Itinerant Delinquency, cross-checks and revealed the existence of a group of Romanian nationals who organized serial flights throughout the national territory to the detriment of for companies that recondition smartphones.

In view of the elements suggesting that a structured criminal group had committed the acts, Coutance’s prosecution relinquished responsibility to the prosecution of the specialized interregional jurisdiction – JIRS – in Rennes on 13 November 2020.

A judicial investigation of the leaders of organized gang theft, concealment of organized gang theft and participation in a criminal association was launched on December 3, 2020.

Burglary in Loroux-Bottereau

A total of 16 burglaries or attempted burglaries committed in various cities in the western part and in Yvelines seemed to be attributable to this network between September 2020 and October 2021, for a total of about 7,000 stolen smartphones, ie. a loss of 2 million euros. for victims companies.

Among these thefts or attempted thefts, two took place in Atlantic Ocean : one more Sainte-Luce-sur-Loirethe other at Loroux-Bottereau.

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Investigations into lawsuits revealed that three men settled down Romania traveled periodically to France (six stays equivalent to the six trips listed) to recruit people within Romanian society to form structured teams with variable geometry to commit the actions.

Investigators also managed to uncover the hidden channel of these stolen phones, most of which had been reactivated in United Kingdomin Italy and in Romania.

Five recipients from the same Afghan family sold the proceeds from the thefts.

One of those based in Aubervilliers bought the telephones and then sent them to Birmingham and Brindisi, where they were sold by relatives in mobile phone shops.

Under the leadership of the JIRS judge in Rennes, three judicial operations were carried out in Romania, England and Italy in cooperation with Eurojust and Europol’s judicial authorities.

At the same time, several simultaneous arrests and searches were carried out in France at various locations. The telephones found on this occasion were returned to the victim’s companies.

Eleven people arrested

A total of eleven people were arrested between November 2021 and June 2022.

Ten men suspected of being the perpetrators of the burglaries or attempts, all of Romanian nationality and aged between 28 and 47, including 6 with criminal record including theft, were charged with theft or attempted organized gang theft and participation in a criminal association.

A 31-year-old man of Afghan nationality, without crime, and living in the Paris region, was charged with concealment in organized gangs, money laundering and participation in a criminal association. All were remanded in custody. They risk 15 years in prison.

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