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Europol helps dismantle copper theft ring

Europe – A criminal gang has been arrested following investigation of a metal theft network operating in France – thanks to support from Europol as well as domestic police and detectives in Spain. Seven suspects have been identified in a case that saw over Euro 900 000 (US$ 980 000) worth of copper disappear from French recycling centres.

Operation Cuproso METO 23 began when the French National Gendarmerie learnt of metal thieves reputedly stealing ‘significant amounts’ of copper from various sites in the south of the country, Europol explains. Investigations revealed that the suspects were likely based in the Spanish town of Girona and so a European Arrest Warrant was issued by the French authorities.

Europol supported the investigation with data analysis and information exchange, as well as by facilitating two operational meetings. Information gathered during the operation was analysed and exchanged in real time, and immediately cross-matched against Europol’s databases.

‘Metal theft can have a devastating impact on businesses, communities and individuals,’ Europol comments. ‘The overall damage caused by metal theft typically far exceeds the value of the stolen metal itself – with some experts estimating it to be 50-fold higher.’

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