Three Polish men ‘made €400,000 exporting stolen Dutch e-bikes’
Three men who stole electric powered bikes in the Netherlands and exported them to Poland are facing up to five years in jail.
Prosecutors say the men were the main players in a sophisticated criminal network that stole e-bikes to order and transported them in transit vans. They have also asked for confiscation of assets worth more than €400,000.
‘These three suspects elevated the trade in stolen bicycles to an international level,’ the district court in The Hague was told. ‘Bikes were stolen to order, modified and exported as fast as possible.’
A year ago police said a customised wrench known as the ‘Polish key’ was being used to break ring locks on bicycles. Thieves were said to favour e-bikes because the devices, which cost around €45 on the internet, broke after two or three uses.
Police began a surveillance operation in 2017. One of the suspects in the case, a 47-year-old man, was described as the ‘main main’ of the ring, running a team of runners who stole e-bikes across the country and sold them to him.
He owned legitimate businesses in Wateringen and in Poland that functioned as cover for his criminal activities, the prosecution service (OM) said.
Another man, aged 37, was responsible for giving the stolen bikes false frame numbers and arranging for them to be transported to Poland in vans, often with fake number plates. The bikes were held in Wateringen as well as storage containers in The Hague and Rotterdam.
The third suspect, a 44-year-old man, was observed loading stolen bikes into a van together with the 37-year-old man. Police also used wiretap evidence to establish the close working relationship between the men.
Prosecutors have demanded a five-year prison sentence for the 47-year-old and 44-year-old suspects and two and a half years for the 37-year-old.
The two older men are accused of breaching bail conditions imposed after they were arrested by continuing to run the operation when they were released pending their trial.
The prosecution service has also asked for confiscation orders for €323,000 for the 47-year-old man and €70,000 for the 37-year-old under proceeds of crime legislation.
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