Estonian police have arrested five men, apparently of Romanian origin, suspected of perpetrating three robberies in Finnish technology stores in just four days.
The suspects, who are currently in custody in Tallinn waiting to be handed over to the Finnish police, were arrested with much of the loot stolen in their possession when they got off one of the ferries that connect Finland and Estonia by sea.
According to police information, the first burglary was perpetrated on Tuesday 19 November in Tampere. At five in the morning, five men broke into a telephone operator's shop and stole mobile phones worth more than 25,000 euros.
A couple in the area told the police that they had seen the shattered store windows and people inside, who later left the place "in a dark car" that was parked in the nearby. The couple managed to write down part of the car's registration number. Video recordings revealed that the car left the car headed towards Helsinki.
Two burglaries in the capital city
The second burglary took place on Friday 22 November in the morning. According to bystanders, three men broke into another technology shop at the center of Helsinki. Police says they robbed computers and accessories worth 15,000 euros and caused about 25,000 euros in damage to the store.
One day later, on Saturday 23 November, another store was raided in Helsinki, from which thieves stole phones and computers worth more than 10,000 euros.
Residents in the area informed the emergency center that they had seen several people who broke into a property in Helsinki and took out computer screens in their vehicle. They also heard suspects speak a language they could not recognize.
Police investigators obtained surveillance camera recordings which helped to trace the movements of the suspects. They discovered that the five men were trying to escape that same day from Finland to Estonia by boat.
The notice sent to the Estonian authorities by the Finnish police paid off. When the ship arrived in Tallin, local police agents were waiting at the harbour, ready to inspect all the men who fit the description of the suspects. The five men were caught with most of the stolen goods still in their possession.
The suspects are now under custody in Tallin and awaiting to be sent to Finland in accordance with the arrest and extradition request issued by a Finnish judge.
Criminal investigation officer Kari Martikainen explained that "the men had arrived in Finland from Romania a couple of days before the first burglary in Tampere. At least some of the suspects have a background in professionally-made burglaries in electronics stores across Europe."
The Helsinki Police Department cooperates closely with the police and border control authorities of the northern prefecture of Estonia. There is an Estonian police operative in Helsinki who is actively involved in, among other things, clearing up such cases. Similar situations requiring rapid cooperation between the Estonian and Finnish police authorities are common.
Two weeks ago, the police arrested another man from Romania, suspected of 16 burglaries perpetrated in homes in Helsinki and Vantaa.