NEWS

Leader of SUV gang is caught

After a three-year operation, Thessaloniki police have arrested a Russian national who allegedly headed a techno-savvy local gang that stole at least 27 luxury sports utility vehicles (SUVs) worth nearly 2 million euros, officers said yesterday. The unnamed 35-year-old man was part of a five-member ring – with links to the Russian mafia – that began stealing the cars in Thessaloniki and Halkidiki in 2002, police said. The thieves used laptops and other state-of-the-art technology to override the vehicles’ immobilizers. After help from Interpol and the Russian authorities, Thessaloniki police located three of the stolen SUVs in Russia. Officers believe the gang smuggled the cars through Bulgaria with the help of other criminals. Police recently found another three cars in the suburbs of Thessaloniki and in Halkidiki which, they said, the gang was preparing to smuggle out of the country. The 27 stolen cars were estimated as worth more than 1.7 million euros. Officers are looking for the other four gang members and the remaining 21 SUVs.