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Dutch Police Bust Gang That Allegedly Snatched iPhones From Moving Trucks

Following a heist that's being compared to something out of a Fast & Furious film, Dutch police have arrested five men who allegedly snatched $600,000 worth of iPhones from a moving truck.

And, police say it probably wasn't their first big job.

Police described the men as a "gang" from Romania. They allegedly used a modified van to match the speed of a truck full of iPhones along the A73 highway near Horst, not far from the German border directly west of Dusseldorf.

During the nighttime raid, police say one of the suspects climbed aboard the moving truck, opened the rear doors and passed boxes of iPhones to his accomplices through a hole in the van's roof, according to The Guardian.

The theft occurred on July 24. The men were arrested on Saturday in central Netherlands. Their van, containing the iPhones, was seized.

Dutch police spokesman Ed Kraszewski said authorities had been investigating a series of thefts involving high-end smartphones stolen from delivery trucks. They apparently had considered the possibility of the two-moving-vehicles scenario, but had previously dismissed it as likely impossible to pull off.

Not anymore. "The truck was taking its freight from A to B and did not stop. Even so, [the phones] were gone. So it must have happened that way. And now we finally have the evidence, with the van and the loot," Kraszewski said.

Police believe the men arrested may have been responsible for 17 such heists in the past two years.

A video released by Romanian police shows surveillance video from 2012 of a similar night raid on a truck that gives an indication of how it might have gone down (if in fact it isn't the work of the very same gang). The footage shows a van pulling up behind a truck, someone getting out and opening the truck's doors. In the video, the thieves apparently change their minds and break off the heist.

As a result, Dutch police are now calling the highway robbery (well, technically highway burglary) the "Romanian method."

Did the thieves really get the idea from Hollywood? Perhaps we will learn more when the suspecys are arraigned in Dutch court on Tuesday. But until then, it's worth noting that two of the seven films from the Fast & Furious franchise are among Romania's top five grossing movies of all time.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.