'Gypsy Gangs Underestimated'
THE HAGUE, 19/09/13 - The Dutch underestimate the danger of roaming gypsy gangs from eastern Europe. They are very professional, well-organized and trained criminals who steal to order, Utrecht criminologists say in weekly magazine Vrij Nederland.
The criminologists did research for a unit of the national police academy. Professor Dina Siegel and her team investigated the composition of the gangs, the offences, the methods of operation, the final destination of the loot and the prevention and repression measures of the government from 2008 to 2012.
The biggest danger, Siegel said, came from pickpockets, car and shop thieves, skimmers, racketeers, burglars and beggars. They know well ahead of time what and how much they want, down to brands and types. The money obtained mostly goes to their home country where it is invested in property and cars.
Siegel: "These are not criminal nomads who work for themselves. These people are sent to the Netherlands to steal three hundred or four hundred mobile telephones for the criminal market per trip."
Retail interest group Detailhandel Nederland says the gypsy gangs involved caused 250 million euros of damage to the Dutch economy every year. Of this, 206 million euros is from shoplifting and between 40 million and 50 million euros for shop break-ins.
Police research reveals that 21 percent of the shop thefts were committed by mobile gangs from central and eastern Europe, led by Romanians. Siegel says almost all of them are gypsies.
According to Siegel, who is from the Utrecht-based Willem Pompe Instituut, these gangs regard the Dutch as 'gullible' people who are very naive. "They think this is because the Netherlands is a multicultural country which is used to foreigners. As a result, we are not suspicious enough."
Siegel said in the magazine that she may have broken a taboo. "It is not my own opinion, it is an observation: pickpockets, beggars and shoplifters are mostly gypsies."
Siegel added France and Spain have become more repressive which is a reason that many gypsy gangs head north. "It is an enormous problem and one which is growing."