Guardia Civil arrested six people in Vejer de la Frontera (Cádiz), the alleged perpetrators of a huge amount of robberies and thefts, throughout Orihuela Costa, across Spain and even in other European countries. The gang are accused of attempting to rob an ATM machine in Orihuela Costa in March 2019 using a tow truck and two stolen vehicles.
Investigations carried out at the time pointed to a gang from central Europe, known to a number of security forces throughout Europe and with a multitude of police records. Those investigated were found living in several illegally occupied homes in Orihuela Costa, from which they were evicted in March.
While the investigation was underway, three of the men arrested are alleged to have been involved in as many as six robberies or attempted robberies of ATM machines as well as the theft of seven vehicles and seven tow trucks, used in the ATM heists and then abandoned in Alicante, Murcia or Valencia.
The gang, sometimes with alongside extended family, moved together constantly through Spain, travelling with young children in motor homes (some of them stolen and bearing false license plates). The gang moved around and stayed at tourist camping areas, usually for no more than a fortnight at a time. With large numbers of tourists and camper vans, they managed to go unnoticed. Once they had established their local base, police say they went out every day usually in pairs and covering different local areas, in order to commit robberies, stealing either cash or items which they could sell.
Most of the robberies were committed on vehicles and camper vans of tourists, while they left them parked in free parking areas where they went to go hiking, go to the beach or to carry out other leisure activities. The gang also targeted car parks around busy shopping centres.
The crimes were not entirely random or accidental, since they observed their potential victims, through binoculars, in order to verify if they left backpacks or handbags in the vehicle. Apart from the cash, they also targeted cameras, laptops and other items which could be sold easily and quickly.
If, in the robberies they managed to obtain credit cards, they used them to make payments over the Internet, where they paid for access to video game platforms or to stream series and movies. They also stole or attempted to steal cash using the cards at ATM machines.
So far, police have investigated thirty seven robberies and two attempted robberies linked to the gang but believe the real number is actually considerably higher given the intense activity of the gang. The gang also made trips to France, where they have a criminal record, as well as Italy and Germany.
The constant movement and measures taken by the gang to avoid detection led to a lengthy and complex investigation over several months until their presence was recently detected in Cadiz and finally they could be arrested.