Vienna, Austria – INTERPOL has supported an operation led by Austria’s Ministry of Interior targeting motor vehicle crime, including the smuggling of stolen vehicles, spare parts and document fraud.
Operation Austrocar was carried out over three days (25-27 September). Experts from INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicles Task Force were deployed to three key locations to assist Austrian Police in their vehicle checks at border points between Austria and the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
Task Force members representing INTERPOL’s General Secretariat, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands supported nearly 13,000 checks relating to spare parts, vehicles, documents and individuals, leading to the seizure of 15 stolen vehicles, including one valued at more than EUR 100,000.
Beyond the seizures, the operation enabled crucial information-gathering and analysis, in order to detect potential links to transnational organized crime, including drugs trafficking and migrant smuggling. It also allowed European officers to establish a stronger law enforcement network and to familiarize themselves with INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicles database, which contains 7.2 million records.
Austria’s Minister of Interior, Herbert Kickl, congratulated all of the officers involved in Operation Austrocar, pointing to the crucial need for ‘coordinated action, know-how and operational readiness’.
Joint Action Day
Operation Austrocar was undertaken within the framework of Joint Action Day (JAD) Mobile led by Frontex, the European Border and Cost Guard Agency.
JAD Mobile saw coordinated activities over two weeks (24 September -5 October), involving 16 European Union states and Europol.
INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicle unit was deployed to the Coordination Centre at Frontex headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, to help participating countries exchange, analyse and act on operational data.
In less than two weeks, the international operation led to the:
- Identification of 500 stolen cars and 26 motorcycles
- Seizure of 712 kg of heroin and 540 kg of cannabis
- Seizure of 9 weapons and 500 bullets
- Arrest of 140 suspected people smugglers
- Detection of 230 fraudulent documents
“Such operations consolidate the law enforcement response to organized crime groups who use stolen vehicles to generate profits and facilitate other crimes such as people smuggling and drug trafficking,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“INTERPOL’s involvement in these initiatives underlines our commitment to supporting our European partners in their actions. We have seen time and time again that crimes on one continent are linked to events on another.”
INTERPOL’s global databases proved highly valuable throughout the activity, with 455,000 checks carried out over the period, law enforcement officers obtained rapid, actionable information in the field.
INTERPOL’s programme against stolen motor vehicles is made possible with funding from the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World.