The thieves stole rare books, computers, cell phones, and other electrical gadgets in raids on warehouses and freight depots, bypassing alarms by scaling roofs and walls and then flying out of the country while other members in their criminal cartel transported the stolen goods out, Met Police said.
The group of Romanians successfully ran their operation for more than two years but were brought down by a joint police operation involving Scotland Yard, Romanian detectives, and the Italian Carabinieri. The six-month police surveillance operation netted multiple arrests at 45 locations.
In one raid in 2017, the thieves took rare books by scientists Sir Isaac Newton and the 18th-century Spanish painter Francisco Goya. The items were being stored in Luton after being shipped from Italy and Germany and were on track to be delivered to a book fair in the United States.
However, four members of the gang flew from Iasi in Romania to Luton and drove to the warehouse where they cut holes in the fence surrounding the warehouse. They also cut holes in the roof to get in and avoid the door sensors, police said. The group spent about five hours in the warehouse and left with 200 books.
Authorities said the gang was linked to a number of prominent Romanian families who are part of the Clamparu crime group based in eastern Romania.
"For over two years, this gang commuted from Romania into the UK, targeting warehouses across the country, causing huge financial losses and even forcing some to close as a result," Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Andy Durham said. "They gave no consideration to the victims they targeted."