Limassol police are a step closer to uncovering a well-organized criminal enterprise in Limassol, following the arrest of three suspects in connection with burglaries and robberies in over a dozen cases.
Three foreign nationals on Thursday were remanded in custody for eight days in connection with an ongoing investigation into a burglary gang in Limassol. Police arrested the three men on Wednesday night close to midnight after a surveillance operation was set in motion in connection with a streak of burglaries reported in the area in recent months.
Reports suggest the case involves a well-organized criminal enterprise, where at least two groups coordinated action together. One team was staking out residents in luxury apartments and placing transparent plastic cards on doors after the occupants left the residence, thus alerting the other team that was moving in that a particular apartment was empty.
Police said they received a tip on Wednesday from a citizen who reported a suspicious rental car moving about near a residential building. Additional information received in previous days prompted law enforcement agents to place the vehicle in question under surveillance in the building’s parking lot.
Charges for setting up or engaging in a criminal enterprise are understood to be an easier way for prosecutors to get more convictions for suspects involved in such networks
On Wednesday afternoon, the three men aged 45, 43, and 40, were driving the vehicle under surveillance along Limassol-Nicosia highway where they were flagged down by police. Officers who searched the suspects found one key to an apartment in Limassol.
During the inspection, officers also found three passports, two from Georgia belonging to two of the suspects, while a Russian passport belonging to the 43-year-old suspect was described by police as fake.
Armed with a search warrant, police then went to the apartment in question where officers found items believed to be linked to a streak of robberies and burglaries in recent months, including a case on May 11 when another apartment in Yermasoyia was burglarized.
Police said a concerned citizen had reported seeing a car leaving the area on the night of the burglary in Yermasoyia, while the vehicle in question was found in flames the following day in a rural area.
A fourth suspect was also believed to be connected with the Limassol gang, with police saying a 53-year-old male was arrested in late December following another burglary in the same town.
Police say the suspects are being investigated for possible involvement in 13 robbery and burglary cases, including a charge of arson, with reports saying the burned car was registered using fake documents.
New legal tool targets criminal enterprises
CID Limassol director Yiannis Soteriades said the total value in connection with the offences was estimated to be around €300,000 in valuables and other goods.
Soteriades also said law enforcement will make use of a new legal tool at their disposal, planning to bring additional conspiracy charges for setting up a criminal enterprise, a new offence in the penal code.
“They will face charges for setting up a criminal enterprise, which is a new offence and a powerful tool in the hands of the police in combatting serious and organized crime,” he said.
Charges involving the setting up or engaging in a criminal enterprise are understood to be an easier way for prosecutors to get more convictions for suspects involved in such networks.
CID Limassol are investigating the case while Soteriades said he was certain more suspects are involved.