Late last Sunday night, a grand police operation to grab Lithuanian car thieves culminated with K-Commando special unit ambush in Pärnu County, Estonia. An alleged criminal, attempting to sprint into the woods, ended up bitten by service dog.
That night, criminal police departments Northern, Western and Southern Prefectures were unusually alert, having been tipped that professional Lithuanian criminals were on the move in the land, associated with serial thefts of newer-type BMW vehicles launched in Estonia ten months ago.
As these kinds of crooks move about as shadows, avoiding the major roads and settlements thus making the technological monitoring of their whereabouts difficult, the surveillance groups of all three prefectures had to run against time, mapping the possible exit routes from Estonia.
That very night, ambushes were set on said highways. The crooks presumably dangerous, the brunt was to be borne by police special force K-Commando and strike teams. About 15 hours after the operation kicked in, in the early hours of Monday, it finally dawned upon the police where the thieves were bound. «Looking for a needle in a haystack, we finally found it,» said Northern Prefecture criminal surveillance police captain Viktor Brujev.
Namely, some twenty minutes before, a white BMW X5 had been stolen from Pärnu. Gediminas (38), at the wheel of it, turned to the Uulu-Valga Highway in order to avoid Ikla border point. On that road, the police was not to apprehend him.
The situation was somewhat complicated by the fact that ahead of the stolen BMW, by about five minutes, there travelled Gediminas’ convoy car. Its driver Kestutis (38) was tasked with warning the companion of a police patrol or road block. «Therefore, we had to stop these two cars at the same moment,» said Mr Brujev.
As expected, stopping the convoy proved easier. Kestutis from Kaunas, earlier punished for car theft in Germany, tried to look innocent. Meanwhile, a couple of kilometres behind them, events unfolded totally different.
As was expected, the stolen car stopped not as requested. To avoid the long chase down the highway, dangerous for those in the traffic, the special unit did its first-ever try at a device purchased for cases like that – a net to stop cars.
Unlike the hedgehog spread across the road and flatting the tyres of a vehicle, the net on the road will get entangled in the wheels, at once rendering it immovable. With the freshly stolen BMW, the net proved extremely effective.
The BMW speeding at about 100 km/h was thus halted 15 metres down the road. In normal conditions, blocking the brakes, the distance till full stop would have been at least thrice that much.
Thus, at the wheel of the BMW and with earlier criminal record in homeland, Gediminas was lucky at having his seat belt fastened. Otherwise, the sudden stop would have flung him out the front window. Now, the guy hopped out and tried to escape the special units by bolting into the forest.
His run remained short, the man pulled to a halt by the police dog. Due to the sharpness of the latter’s teeth, before hauling the thief over to their department, the police had to take him to Pärnu Hospital emergency medicine room to bind up his wounds.
Meanwhile, the policemen contacted owner of the BMW X5, sweetly asleep at home, who initially refused to believe that his car had been stolen and already captured in an ambush some few dozen kilometres down the road.
Total thefts six
According to Northern Prefecture, the seized Lithuanians are suspected in stealing a total of six BMW vehicles from Tallinn and Pärnu from June last year till March 2015. «On top of that, we are verifying the links of the suspects to about a dozen car thefts carrying the same handwriting, pulled off all over Estonia these past years,» said senior prosecutor Kati Maitse-Pärkna.
The last such gang of professional thieves specialising in cars was apprehended in Estonia several years ago, and from then on car thieves of Lithuanian background have become extremely conspiring in their comings, goings and doings.
The stolen models directly linked to the accused Lithuanians are a bit older, mostly produced 2007–2011. These include three SUVs BMW X5, one BMW X6, as well as a BMW 525D and a BMW 530D. Put together, the cars are worth over €150,000.
For reasons beyond the Lithuanians, two of the six remained in Estonia. The BMW X5 was seized by police at the arrest. The 5 series sedan, however, was just recently found forsaken at a small Harju County highway. Driving towards the border with their catch, the thieves encountered utter bad luck as a fuse failed in the electronics of the vehicle and the car went no further.
«The suspects drove around, looking for the higher price category BMW vehicles. To open car doors and start the engines, special technology was utilised,» explained the senior prosecutor Ms Maitse-Pärkna.
Special equipment like that costs €5,000 and is probably only good to start BMW vehicles up to a specific «newness». This is confirmed by the fact that with BMW models brand new or some years old standing in the same street, the thieves always picked the older version.