In the last three months, a Czech gang has robbed about 50 houses in Prague, sparking a major police manhunt to bring the criminals to justice.
The thieves mostly at night break into the houses and focus on valuables and money. Despite the rash of break-ins, the police have been unable to apprehend them.
This week, about 60 mayors from the Central Bohemian region gathered in Jesenice near Prague to discuss this situation with police officers, who informed them about the current state of the investigation.
“We are reviewing case analysis which concludes that this series of thefts is caused by a group of well-organized perpetrators,” said Vlasta Suchánková, spokeswoman of the Central Bohemia region police department.
In the affected locations, foreign and traffic police are assisting the local authorities, added Suchánková.
Meanwhile, in Jesenice, locals are trying to deal with the situation themselves.
“We all contributed to a joint fund and paid for security agencies that guard our street,” said Jesenice Deputy Mayor Martin Kuruc.
So far, the gang of thieves also robbed more than a dozen houses in the nearby village of Osnice.
The gang apparently operates at an incredible speed and its members are also capable of deactivating alarms.
“My wife and I were just putting our children to bed and the lights were off. Suddenly, I heard my wife screaming. As it was silent in our house, she could hear suspicious sounds behind the window, and saw a flashlight,” said a member of one of the families targeted by the thieves, who ran away when they noticed the family was still home.
To help with the investigation, people in Osnice created a special group on a social network, which also includes police officers, and report suspicious activity.
The gang of thieves operates mainly in the southeast of Prague, but some cases were also reported in the west of the capital.
Overall, police estimate the gang may be responsible for a total of about 120 burglaries, which usually take place between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., with several perpetrators participating.
However, the group avoids confrontation with homeowners, so no one has been hurt in the incidents.