Stolen phones and cosmetics find a new home in the Netherlands

The smartphones and cosmetics ‘stolen in the Netherlands by Eastern European gangs’ are often sold on Dutch markets, according to research into cross-border crime gangs by researchers at Utrecht University.

In particular, the Zwarte Markt (black market) in Beverwijk north of Amsterdam is a centre for the trade in stolen goods, the Volkskrant quotes the research as saying.

‘The thieves head for the market with bags of stolen goods…and make under the counter deals with primarily Afghan sellers,’ the paper states.

But Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp market and the Afrikaanderplein in Rotterdam are also centres for the stolen goods trade. The researchers base their claims on interviews with market stall holders.


Researcher Dina Siegel told the paper the fact that so much is sold in the Netherlands is noteworthy. ‘We always assumed stolen goods headed off to Eastern Europe but that is not the case,’ she said.

George Zapantoulis, the director of the Beverwijk market, said he always involved the police if he was aware of criminal goings on. ‘The name Black Market might raise questions but we have 2,000 stall holders and most of them are good people,’ he said.

The research team took a year to complete their project, travelling to Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria and speaking to both criminals and officials.

‘They think the Dutch are naïve,’ Siegel said. ‘They park their cars in dark corners, they leave their windows open and put their phones on terrace tables,’ she said. ‘That makes it easy.’

In particular, police in the four Eastern European countries are criticial of the Dutch police, the research shows, considering them to be slow, lazy and bureaucratic. However, cooperation has improved since the phenomenon of ‘mobile banditry’ became a priority in the Netherlands, the Volkskrant said.

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