Officers across the Rhineland sprang into action at 6 am looking for stolen goods in Aachen, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Mönchengladbach, Cologne and several other cities.
Along with raiding two asylum-seeker homes, police set up traffic control points where they pulled over and searched suspicious vehicles. Helicopters were also deployed for surveillance.
Parking areas off A4 autobahn are, according to the Cologne police, hotspots of criminal activity. Burglars were known to meet there and exchange stolen goods, a spokesman said.
Main aims of the raids were for the police to get a better idea of how the gang is structured, how widespread it actually is and whether there are others.
The authorities would hold a more extensive briefing on the outcome of the raid on Friday, the spokesman said, adding that while the raids were at dawn, the operation would likely last all day.
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