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CRIME

Police bust tractor trafficking network

French police have swooped on a gang caught stealing expensive tractors from car dealers across France before selling them off in Romania.

Noisy, bulky and instantly recognizable, a tractor may seem a difficult object to steal. But a gang operating in France managed to steal around 50 of the vehicles, worth €5 million ($6.1 million), Le Figaro reports.

The thieves have been targeting isolated car dealers in the countryside since late 2010, police said. Striking at night, the farming machinery bandits broke into a series of padlocked car parks, stealing brand-new tractors and driving them onto a covered articulated truck before setting off.

Police investigators identified more than 25 raids on French car dealers.

The tractors, each worth between €70,000 and €300,000, were moved through Germany, Austria and Hungary, before they were sold in Romania.

"We were facing a very organized criminal operation," chief investigator Jean-Philippe Reiland told Le Figaro. "Investigations are still ongoing with local authorities."

On July 15th, four gang members were caught in the act and detained by the police. They were driving down a road in Brittany with three large tractors they had stolen in the town of Le Rheu, near Rennes.

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POLICE

Parents and child drown after freak wave hits French coast

Two parents and their child died in western France after a powerful wave swept them out to sea as they were fishing on a dyke in Brittany, authorities said on Friday.

Parents and child drown after freak wave hits French coast

The 55-year-old father and 33-year-old mother were pulled out of the water early Thursday evening in the western town of Plogoff in cardiac arrest but rescuers were unable to resuscitate them.

The body of the 12-year-old child was found later in the evening.

Three other children of the family, aged 13 to 15, were not on the dyke and survived the surprise wave but were in shock and being treated by psychological services.

There were strong waves at the time but the weather conditions were not stormy, a spokesperson for maritime officials said.

Witnesses immediately called rescuers who dispatched paramedics and three helicopters to search for the victims, who lived in the nearby town of Audierne.

“There are circumstances that make the coast dangerous around here. I’m warning people, you have to be extremely careful,” Plogoff Mayor Joel Yvenou told the local Telegramme newspaper.

“It’s terrible, the season hasn’t begun yet and there are already victims,” he added.

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