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Con-artists strike A4 motorway users

By Rachael Williams

Police have reported a significant rise in organised crime by Eastern European groups on the A4 motorway.

The A4 motorway runs from the Austrian capital Vienna to the town of Nickelsdorf on the Hungarian border and is an important road for commuters who work outside their home countries.

Police have said that the groups of con-artists come from Eastern Europe and select their victims based on their own projections of where each person is travelling. In the majority of cases the victims have been people who work abroad and were commuting at the time of the incident.

Speaking on behalf of the Regional Police Command, Norbert Janitsch explained that the reason for the crimes was simple: "People who work abroad travel home with money."

In most cases, handbags are targeted. The thieves wait at petrol garages or rest stations for their victims and they strike as soon as the person stops to take a break.

Janitsch said: "It’s often the case that someone who is on their way home from work will make a stop in order to buy something, such as snacks or bread. It is exactly then that the thieves strike and they assume that there is money in the car. They don’t know exactly where it is but they guess that it must be in a handbag. This means that they only need to distract the driver."

And there are different methods used by the thieves to distract drivers. Janitsch continued: "Sometimes the thieves are able to deceive the driver about something such as a hole in the car tyre. In this way they can also get the attention of any passenger."

Police refer to the thief who distracts the victim as the "means of access". Once the victim is distracted, this allows the actual thief to then spring into action – Janitsch said: "This thief then gains access to the vehicle, grabs the bag and flees the scene of the crime."

Police are currently investigating different criminal groups that are loosely connected to each other and only strike when they need money.

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