Police break up gang that robbed hundreds of tourists on Catalan highway
Of the 15 members arrested, 12 receive unprecedented restraining orders
The Catalan police have broken up a gang responsible for robbing hundreds of tourists on the AP-7, a major highway running north to south along the Mediterranean coast, and one of Spain’s main entry points for international visitors.
The 20-strong gang targeted small groups of tourists traveling in expensive cars. According to sources in the investigation, the gang is behind at least 47 robberies in the past six months. Goods robbed include computers, cameras, mobile phones, as well as cash, altogether accounting for more than 150,000 euros.
Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra police arrested 15 members of the gang, 12 of whom received restraining orders forbidding them from using the AP-7 while the investigation is ongoing. Not only will the order apply in Catalonia, but also in Spain as a whole—the first time such a measure has been taken in the country.
According to the head of the Mossos’ traffic division, Josep Guillot, restraining orders for gangs of thieves have proven to be among the most effective tools in preventing further robberies.
Guillot described the gang as a “criminal organization” that acted all across Europe, with several members having a criminal record in countries such as Germany, Italy or France.
Surveillance cameras of Abertis, the company managing the AP-7 highway, were instrumental in understanding the organization’s modus operandi. In the footage provided by the Mossos, gang members can be seen talking to the victims in gas stations while an accomplice slips unnoticed into the car and steals their belongings.
All the gang members are from Kosovo. Six of them are residents in Catalonia, while the rest either stayed at hostels or constantly moved from one apartment to another in order to avoid being tracked.
The Catalan police advise international visitors to always lock the doors if they leave their vehicles, even if it is just for a moment.
If you’ve been a victim of a robbery, you can call the emergency telephone number (112) and report the incident to the police.