Another group of heartless robbers, who would target innocent victims on the A-7 motorway, mostly tourists, have been arrested by the Catalan police.
The group are believed to have been responsible for more than 50 highway robberies, targeting service and rest areas along the motorway network.
So far, 15 people have been arrested, all natives of Kosovo and with various backgrounds in different European countries such as France, Germany and Italy.
They used high-end vehicles to ensure a quick escape after committing the crimes or to flee from the police in the event of being discovered. So far, investigators have been able to associate this group with around 50 crimes committed in the 6 months that the investigation has taken place, although it still remains open to others.
The gang would use various techniques to rob innocent victims of valuables and money from inside parked vehicles after distracting their occupants. One of his most common tricks was to warn the victims that they had the flat tire and pretend to help them.
The arrests were made on June 6 in the towns of Castelldefels, Badalona, Barcelona and Vilanova i la Geltrú. Those arrested are accused of being the perpetrators of the crimes of theft, against traffic safety, forgery and a robbery with intimidation.
One of the detainees was alerted to the police operation and escaped on the motorway in the direction of Valencia, but was followed by the police who stopped and arrested the suspect in Vilanova i la Geltrú.
Between them, the detainees have accumulated hundreds of police records, some having already been arrested in 2013 for similar offences.
The investigation, which has lasted almost six months, took place with the collaboration of the company Abertis, which manages the motorways, and began at the end of last year when the police were aware that there had been a theft of 27,000 euro at km 120 of the AP-7.
During the investigation, the officers proved that the detainees have a very high degree of specialisation, perfected over the years. The members of the organization have defined roles and choose victims mostly of foreign origin, because of the large amounts of money they often carry in cash for their vacation.
They acted in three groups, but they were coordinated and directed by four bosses. The dismantled organisation had the established base in Catalonia and was nourished by itinerant components that took advantage of such times as the summer season, in which there is a greater influx of foreigners on the highways. Subsequently, to avoid being stopped by the police, they left Spain for a while and continued to operate in other countries.
All of them used falsified documentation on a regular basis to identify themselves when they were detected by police officers, as well as renting the vehicles in which they were travelling.
Of the members of the gang investigated, only six have stable domicile in Spain, while the rest were staying temporarily in Catalonia, in several hostels and hotels of different towns during the period they intended to commit thefts. Other members of the group continuously changed the homes where they resided to make detection more difficult, while those who lived in stable homes had taken very advanced security measures to avoid being detected and followed.
The group acted in two ways to identify their victims. The main ‘modus operandi’ was the “pincharuedas”, which consists of a member of the gang puncturing a tyre on the victim’s vehicle and then following the vehicle until the victim had to stop on the hard shoulder, at which time the perpetrators also took advantage of the disabled vehicle to subtract the objects from inside.
However, in most cases, and given the degree of specialisation acquired by the band, they no longer needed to puncture the wheel of the victims’ vehicle. Simply, once having detected the vehicle they wanted to assault, they urged the driver to stop on the hard shoulder or in the same service or rest area of the highway, making the driver believe there was a problem in the vehicle. Once stopped and with the excuse of providing assistance, the authors distracted the victims while taking advantage of the objects inside the vehicle.
N332.es has created a helpful video explaining how to identify a real Guardia Civil unmarked vehicle to help prevent similar distractions. Remember, ig you are ever in any doubt if a vehicle trying to flag you down is real, immediately dial 062 if you speak Spanish, or 112 for other international languages, and the emergency control centres will either be able to advise you of the validity of the vehicle, or summon help straight away.