Tourist Car Scam Taken Down
Cops have dismantled a gang of criminals who have allegedly been filmed slashing tourists’ tyres at toll booths before using the distraction to steal valuables from inside the cars.
Six men have been arrested in the municipalities of Reus, L’Ametlla de Mar, L’Hospitalet de I’Infant, all in the eastern Spanish region of Catalonia, after five months of investigation.
Police claim the suspects, all aged between 35 and 50 years old and of either Serbia or Kosovan nationality, belonged to a gang who worked on motorways on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
In the video, the gang can be seen slashing the tyres of tourists’ cars and caravans at toll booths. Police say the gang would then alert the drivers of the flat tyre and offer to help before stealing belongings from inside the tourists’ cars and fleeing.
In the clip, one of the gang can be seen stealing a rucksack from one of the cars. The authorities say the gang often targeted foreign vehicles as tourists were likely to be carrying large amounts of cash in the car.
The gang worked mainly on the AP-7 motorway which runs from Murcia (southeastern Spain) to La Jonquera (Catalonia), as well as the C-32 and A-2 roads in the same area.
The video shows the police raiding one of the houses where they seized cash, jewellery, electronics and what appears to be a handgun.
During the arrest operation, police found 15,000 EUR (12,767 GBP) in cash, 10,000 EUR (8,511 GBP) in foreign banknotes from 16 different countries, and some objects they had stolen, such as handbags, smartphones, fake documentation, and a gun.
Spanish police believe the gang had even travelled as far north as Brussels, stopping at French service stations to steal belongings from parked cars.
Those arrested are said to have criminals records in France, Germany and Italy and rented luxury cars for the crimes to allow them to get away quickly, with the police saying they believe the gang spent around 9,000 EUR (7,660 GBP) on renting the getaway cars.
The six suspects have been charged with 22 crimes of theft, six crimes of non-serious damages, seven crimes against traffic security, two crimes for robbery, and other crime