Salonica stolen-car gang bust

An international car theft ring believed to have smuggled dozens of stolen luxury vehicles through Greece to the Middle East has been broken up by police in Thessaloniki, it was announced yesterday. Charges have been pressed against 12 people – including two Greeks, Thessaloniki residents Ioannis Frantzoulis, 42, and Christos Sidiropoulos, 33 – while international arrest warrants have been issued against another two Bulgarian nationals. Fourteen Mercedes and BMW cars which had been stolen in France and Spain were seized. The gang, whose arrested members are Bulgarian, Russian, Greek and Syrian, is believed to have stolen at least 66 cars in Spain and France, and then imported them to Greece, after fitting the vehicles with stolen Greek license plates and forged papers. In Greece, the cars were reissued with other stolen plates from non-Schengen Pact members to avoid detection at the Greek borders. They were then driven to Bulgaria, where the gang’s headquarters are believed to have been, and then exported for sale in Syria.