Alleged hunting trophy thieves tracked down

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© Guardia Civil
TROPHY: One of the stuffed heads seized during the investigation.

FOUR people have been arrested in San Sebastian in northern Spain for alleged burglary of a home in La Rioja during which hunting trophies valued at approximately €50,000 were stolen.

The Guardia Civil began investigations in June this year when a private individual reported that his home in Ezcaray (La Rioja) had been broken into and bear and wolf skins and heads, elephant tusks and other trophies had been stolen along with computer equipment.

Examination of the scene of the crime and fingerprinting allowed the police force to identify a suspect from San Sebastian who had a previous criminal record for various incidents. Surveillance and investigation of the suspect allowed investigators to identify a further three people who formed a group which allegedly carried out burglaries and stored the loot before selling it on the black market or overseas, where hunting trophies are particularly popular.

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Gradually various trophies including bear skins started to be offered on the black market and the police upped surveillance of the group, eventually tracking the stolen items down in two garages in San Sebastian. Officers also found a gun which had been reported stolen from Zarautz (Basque Country) in 2015.

The stolen hunting trophies have been returned to their legitimate owners and the four arrestees, who have been placed at the disposal of the courts, are accused of burglary, illegal weapon possession and forming part of an organised criminal group.

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