Gangs from Eastern Europe use budget airlines to commit crimes across the continent , says Europol chief

Head of European law enforcement agency said gangs are using cheap airlines to commit crimes in different locations before returning home

Criminal gangs from Eastern Europe are believed to be targeting cities across the continent, using budget airlines to travel and carry out crimes in various locations, before returning home.

EU law enforcement agency Europol said "petty criminals were operating across multiple jurisdictions" in Europe, with the most common crimes including card skimming and pick-pocketing, according to The Times.

'Card-skimming' involves illegally copying data from a card's magnetic strip, usually using a fake attachment on a cash machine.

A cloned card can then be used to make purchases under another person's name.

Europol crime analysts estimate Romanian and Bulgarian gangs are responsible for 90 per cent of all card-skimming offences committed across the continent. The agency has identified approximately 240 organised crime gangs from Romania, whose operations account for nearly seven per cent of all active criminal networks in Europe, The Times reported.

Speaking to the newspaper, Robert Wainwright, director of Europol described a "travelling criminal gang phenomenon" which he said was becoming increasingly more prevelant during the last three years. "Gangs from Lithuania, gangs from Poland, gangs from Romania [...] are operating in 20 or more European countries", he said.

“They fly on low-cost airlines, do a few hits in one city and get back in time for tea. It's very different for the local police to respond to that.”

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