Police have arrested a suspected gang leader for posing as a good Samaritan before robbing families fleeing the war in Ukraine.
The Civil Guard arrested a 47-year-old suspect, named as R.M.J., and identified an accomplice for carrying out eight thefts, one attempted, as well as three cases of damaging the interior of vehicles parked in motorway service areas.
The authorities said the suspects are part of a North African gang who are known to engage in this kind of criminal activity, adding that they have stolen cash and belongings totalling over EUR 10,250 (GBP 8,500) and that their victims include Ukrainian families fleeing the war.
The gang reportedly carried out the robberies at service stations where they looked for foreign-plated vehicles and elderly travellers.
After selecting their victims, one gang member engaged them in conversation, usually to request information or offer help after puncturing a tyre, as at least one accomplice allegedly stole belongings from inside the car.
The police said they have arrested the suspected gang leader in the municipality of Alfajarin in Zaragoza Province and identified an accomplice who operated at service stations on the A-1, A-62 and AP-7 motorways.
Among the gang’s victims was a Ukrainian family fleeing the war and hoping to settle in Spain.
The victims said they made a stop at a petrol station on the AP-7 motorway in the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia.
They told officers that a group of five people approached them to point out that they had a flat tyre before offering to help.
While gang members kept the victims occupied, accomplices stole over EUR 7,000 in cash and belongings, including the keys to their home in Ukraine.
The police said the suspects are repeat offenders and have a long history of carrying out similar crimes.
The investigation continues.