The airport is one of Europe’s biggest freight hubs. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Investigators believe thieves who stole a consignment of more than €3 million worth of iPhones at Schiphol airport were helped by workers on site.

A 35-year-old lorry driver, said to be of Polish origin, drove off with the freight after producing false delivery documents. He was arrested a day after the theft on March 16 and remains under investigation.

Dutch border police said they suspected the operation involved people working for ‘various companies’ at the airport. It is the latest in a series of large hauls that indicate criminal gangs are recruiting workers based at the airport.

The iPhones are thought to have been dumped the following day in Edam. Shortly afterwards stolen phones were activated in various locations around the Netherlands, but police would not say if any had been recovered.

‘If it looks as if employees at a company based at Schiphol are involved we will give this investigation top priority,’ major Robert van Koepel, spokesman for the military police (Koninklijke Marechaussee) told AD.nl.

In May around 4,400 Apple watches worth €530,000 were stolen from the premises of a transport company at Schiphol-Oost. A worker for the company was among several people arrested as a result of the investigation.

TV crime show Opsporing Verzocht showed video footage earlier this year of a theft of €3 million worth of electronics in which the two thieves spent an hour and a half loading up 40 pallets of equipment without being disturbed. Investigators believe the pair also had help from inside.

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Thorsten Neumann, chairman of transport sector association TAPA, said organised criminals were looking for new sources of income to make up for lost business during lockdown. ‘That’s creating larger risks for the transport industry, with container lorries most in danger,’ he said.

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