Gone in 60 seconds: The “Romanian Criminals Academy”

The members of a gang which called itself „The Academy of Romanian Criminals” have been convicted to a total of 60 years in prison. „The Academy” stole jewels and watches with a total value of 10 millions Euros from several European countries, including UK, Germany and France.

The case is unique because, according to Romanian prosecutors, the gang was organized like a military comando unit, with a unique code of „behaviour”, which was written, like a User’s guide.

Each robbery took no more than 60 seconds. The robberies took place in general in luxury shops from Belgium, Andorra, Germany, Austria, Holland, Croatia, UK, Denmark, Italy, France. Their modus operandi imitated that of a gang called Pink Panther, from former Yugoslavia, the prosecutors said.

In some cases, during robberies, they wear women’s clothes, in order to disguise themselves.

According to their code, which had 15 pages, the members (100 in total) had to follow specific rules, such as: don’t smoke before a robbery, don’t listen music before “you go to work”, don’t make jokes and don’t keep your hands in your pockets in the presence of the “supreme leader”(the ringleader), don’t use names and don’s speak Romanian during “action”.

Motivational speeches were also included in the code. Such as: “We learn from our mistakes, we have to be low profile”.

A separate chapter stated how new members were recruited. There were physical tests, and those admitted had to sign a contract and to swear an oath to the supreme leader.

The supreme leader was the first level, the next level were the “officers”, and the next level the recruits. Recruits were poor young men, maximum age 26, but also minors, some of them from orphanage. Almost all the members were from Moldova, Eastern Romania, the poorest region in the country.

They were caught last year following international cooperation between Romanian anti-mafia prosecutors (DIICOT) and prosecutors from UK and Belgium. Captions from surveillance cameras during some robberies were made public.

First arrests were made a year ago. After a 1 year trial, the leader, Adrian Botez, the ring leader was convicted to 30 years in prison. Another 8 were convicted between 3 and 4 years. They have the right to make an appeal.

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