REGIONAL officers from the Mossos d’Esquadra in Barcelona are clamping down on the “packs of youngsters” that are patrolling the streets and targeting tourists to rob them of their valuables.
“It’s a new paradigm,” explained a source from the Barcelona authorities, “They’re packs of youngsters that go out to hunt.”
Officials say that the large spike in violent crime over the past year has been largely down to these gangs, committing violent robberies and muggings across the city.
Local police have said that is it very difficult to catch and criminally charge the thieves as they often work in large groups of up to 10 people. Sometimes you may arrest three of them but you are never certain which of them is the actual thief.
In May, the Catalan police established a specific team called ‘Poliédrico’ which is aimed at monitoring the steps of known and potential offenders and creating a “top 22 wanted list” of the most prolific offenders.
The current wave of violent street robberies is creating a sense of insecurity in Barcelona and Josep Cid, coordinator of Criminology studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, is worried that the city has a “problem and it can’t be covered up”.
Cid believes that a large part of the problem is the degradation of local housing conditions in the main areas that the crimes are more prevalent, such as the Ciutat Vella.
Barcelona currently tops the list for rising violent crime levels, with a 17% rise in registered offences since 2018.
Diego Torrent, a doctor in Sociology at the University of Barcelona believes that the large rise in crime is to do with the increased influx of migrant minors entering the city, and with an overwhelmed social care system and improper housing, they are turning to crime.