505 stolen cars, 2 000 vehicle parts seized in Frontex-led operation


  • 505 stolen cars, nearly 2 000 stolen vehicle parts have been recovered in Frontex-led operation across Europe.
  • In some cases, satellite systems were used to track vehicles with subsequent seizures and arrests of perpetrators.
  • 18 500 database checks were performed during the action.
  • 248 fraudulent documents have been recovered thanks to cooperation with Frontex experts. 

Operation Mobile 6 took place on 9-20 October at the EU’s external land boarders, as well as at the borders in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. It involved around 400 law enforcement officers from 25 countries who carried out intensified checks in several locations along the EU’s external borders. Interpol and Europol supported the action with their expertise and access to databases. Thanks to Interpol and their contacts with police authorities outside Europe, several stolen cars were stopped in international ports.

Various criminal tactics has been identified during the action, including several incidents with cloned cars. Criminal groups use the identity papers belonging of another vehicle, usually of a destroyed car, and present them to the authorities during the border control procedure for a stolen car of the same make, model and colour. Such incidents pose increasing problem for border officers as the sophistication of the forgery of the vehicle identification numbers is very high.

The agency activated its EU Border Guard officers and staff working in operations in six operations - Terra, Montenegro, Albania, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia – as part of the action. In addition, mobile teams of experts were sent to Croatia and Moldova, to proactively target stolen vehicle crime.

Frontex coordinated the operation from its headquarters in Warsaw where representatives of the participating countries exchanged information. The agency’s document fraud experts were on the spot to assist the participants with any enquiries related to document fraud. The operation also targeted the theft of boats and engines. An international team of specialists, comprising officers from Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Romania, was dispatched by Frontex to the Danube River and Black Sea to assist Bulgarian authorities in detection of stolen boats and outboard engines.

All this led to excellent results. As part of JAD Mobile 6, 505 stolen cars, 2 000 car parts, 16 boats, 32 outboard engines and 248 forged documents were recovered. In addition, the participating authorities manage to stop 209 alleged people smugglers.

How do law enforcement officers detect stolen cars?

Frontex deploys 92 motor vehicle crime detection officers and 177 document experts to its operations. The officers are trained to identify crimes or irregularities related to vehicles crossing the EU’s borders. Their everyday work requires technical knowledge of cars, boats, lorries, their engines, vehicle identification (VIN) numbers and market value, as well as security features of various documents.

Read more in our recent article on car theft: True crime: Car theft (


EU Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain
Non-EU countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia
Agencies/organisations: Frontex, INTERPOL, Europol

Together against organised crime

The operations toon place under the umbrella of EMPACT, the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats. It tackles the most important threats posed by organised and serious international crime affecting the EU. EMPACT strengthens intelligence, strategic and operational cooperation between national authorities, EU institutions and bodies, and international partners.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.