POLICE trying to track down a highly organised gang of Eastern European thieves whose raids on shops in the Medway area have netted them a haul worth at least £50,000, have released CCTV pictures of them in action.
The raiders' movements are so well co-ordinated that vulnerable shopkeepers are often unaware their private living quarters and shelves have been rifled until long after they have left. The group, sometimes up to 15 strong and including mothers carrying babies, a grandmother, three men and a toddler, are known to have struck at least 11 times under the guise of a family shopping trip to grocers, post-offices and newagents.
But after the Medway Today newspaper exclusively revealed their widespread crime spree, several other cases have been reported to our newsroom. Det Insp Jackie Luckhurst, leading the investigation, said the thefts came to light in Gillingham a month ago. They have branched out all over the Medway Towns and it is believed they may have moved into the Gravesend area.
Det Insp Luckhurst said: "We are certainly talking about organised crime. They are extremely slick in their operation with each one having a role to play."
ÒIt is usually the elder of the party who breaks away and carries out the burglary. They are also selective, 10 out of the 11 premises targeted are businesses run by ethnic members of the community. They undoubtedly carry out a recce beforehand."
If you have information telephone Medway police on 01634 884252 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.