Three men, a Moroccan and two Algerians, were arrested last Tuesday for a total of 182 thefts from vehicles in the Vega Baja.
For the Moroccan, believed to be 33 years of age, his arrest was the second occasion in recent weeks that he has spent time in the custody of the Guardia Civil, the previous time being in March when he was detained for 20 thefts, 7 of which involved forced entry of a vehicle. The Guardia also arrested two Algerian men aged 38 and 45 who accompanied the Moroccan on two different occasions.
Given the increase in this type of crime during the Spring months, the Guardia Civil launched several operations targetting known suspects. Agents carried out intensive research by viewing hundreds of hours of CCTV footage as well as sitting around for many hours in unmarked police cars carrying out visual surveillance.
On one occasion the Guardia were able to film an incident in Torrevieja where a man punctured the tyre of a parked vehicle and then hid with his accomplice inside a mall. When the vehicle owners returned to their car they approached their victims to try to distract them, whilst at the same time relieving them of their belongings. They were immediately detained by the Officers.
These two individuals, a Moroccan aged 33 and an Algerian 38, appeared before the courts late last month accused of being the alleged perpetrators of 9 robberies and 1 burglary, all from the interior of vehicles in and around Torrevieja.
They were released on bail, and as the investigations continued, the Moroccan continued his criminal activities with another accomplice using the same methods.
This time, the Crevillente Civil Guard were able to watch him on shopping centre cameras, as once again he smashed a car window before stealing the vehicle contents.
The 33-year-old Moroccan was again arrested, along with his accomplice, an Algerian of 45, and charged with a further 13 thefts with force from vehicle interiors in the commercial areas of Crevillente.
They have now been charged with a total of 182 crimes. The leader of the group, the 33-year-old Moroccan, was found to have 10 different identities.
In total they are thought to have stolen a total of 13,000 euros in cash, 500 pounds sterling, 9,000 euros worth of mobile telephones, 1,700 euros in glasses, 1,500 euros in electronic devices and have cost their victims over 2,000 euros in replacing and repairing their punctured tyres.
The method is always the same. First they puncture or deflate a car tyre and then wait for the owner to come back to the vehicle. When they see him or her arrive, they warn of the problem and one of them offers to help to change the wheel. Taking advantage of the distraction, the accomplice then steals anything that is on view inside the car.
These types of crimes have been occurring more frequently in car parks and in commercial areas and rest areas in Torrevieja and Crevillente. Their main object was usually foreigners who might be on holiday or just visiting the area.