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YACS (Yugoslavian/Albanian/Croatian/Serbian) Crime Groups: An FBI Major Crime Initiative

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 7 Issue: 11 Dated: November 1998 Pages: 7-12
R A Ballezza
Date Published
6 pages
This article describes the criminal activities of Yugoslavian/Albanian/Croatian/Serbian (YACS) crime groups and the FBI-coordinated YACS Crime Group initiative established to counter them.
By the summer of 1994, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), an international association of supermarket corporations, had attributed hundreds of attempted or successful burglaries to groups of Yugoslavian or Albanian suspects. Losses in property and income led the FMI to meet with high-level FBI officials and seek Federal assistance in coordinating an attack on this increasing crime trend. In response to this request, the FBI created the YACS Crime Group initiative. Because the most active burglary teams resided in the New York City area, the FBI assigned the case to its New York Office. The proliferation of ATM's in banks, supermarkets, and shopping malls provided a perfect opportunity for YACS teams to reap vast amounts of cash and cause an even greater amount of property damage. A threefold problem that involved private industry security measures, law enforcement coordination matters, and statute and prosecution difficulties contributed to the YACS success in evading detection and apprehension. The FBI's initiative provided a comprehensive approach to bring these three factions together to combat the crime spree of the YACS burglary groups. This article details the private industry security measures, law enforcement coordination matters, and legislative considerations. More than 3 years after the YACS initiative began, the FBI remains committed to educating even greater numbers of police agencies about this crime group. With law enforcement pressure continuing on these groups in the New York area, YACS burglaries are occurring more often in other parts of the United States. Increased interagency cooperation and more thorough police response to alarms, combined with improved security systems from the private sector will aid law enforcement agencies in apprehending these professional criminals. Legislative improvements will make it easier to successfully prosecute them and have their illegal proceeds forfeited. 6 notes