Last year and earlier this year there was a spate of burglaries at garden centres across the country in which tools such as chain saws were taken. A number of the garden centres that were broken into were in East Flanders. An investigation into the break-ins found that they had been perpetrated by a Romanian gang that was active in both Belgium and France. The stolen goods were mainly taken back to Romania to be sold.
In July police detained 5 suspects, 4 of whom during an attempted break-in in Rochefort (Namur province). The 5th suspect was detained during subsequent property searches in the Charleroi area of Hainaut. There the person detained was the man that bought the stolen goods from the thieves for re-sale. An Examining Magistrate from the East Flemish town of Oudenaarde put the man under arrest.
During the property searches a total of 300 items stolen from garden centres were found. The gang operated in various teams and some of those involved had already returned to Romania.
On Wednesday 25 September a large-scale operation was mounted in Romania in the presence of Belgian and French detectives. 260 police officers took part and 28 properties were searched. 10 people were detained and a number of items confiscated. The Examining Magistrate in Oudenaarde immediately issued a European arrest warrant for two of those detained.