GUARDIA Civil cuffed four members of the same family in Cabo de Palos for passing themselves off as members of an association for the deaf as a ploy for robbing people on the street.
The Guardia reported that the clan members feigned being hearing impaired and used the excuse of asking for support for a fictitious association to approach members of the public, taking advantage of people being distracted to relieve them of their valuables.
The gang specialisd in the so-called ‘hugger mugger’ technique. Their victims, usually the elderly and foreigners, would be focused on a form the thieves had asked them to sign. When the robbers embraced them supposedly in gratitude, they were in fact trying to pocket items like jewellery, watches and cash.
The Guardia Civil launched a hunt for the muggers after receiving a number of reports from the public about a group of people of Eastern European origin asking people for money for an organisation for deaf people in the Cabo de Palos-Cartagena commercial zone. Several patrols set about combing the area where they had been sighted and on Cabo de Palos access roads.
When a patrol spotted a car travelling at high speed on the AP-7 in the Los Belones area they pulled it over. Inside were four people matching the descriptions of the supposed charity fundraisers given by witnesses.
When officers identified them it turned out they had police records for theft.
The Guardia linked one woman among the four to several ‘hugger mugger’ robberies in Castellon. The other three, one of them a minor, face changes for fraud, theft and belonging to a criminal organisation.
An inspection of their vehicle meanwhile led to the discovery of numerous leaflets for the false organisation.
According to the Guardia, the criminal gang is made up of members of the same Romanian family, based in Elche, but travelling around the country.
The Guardia issued a reminder to the most vulnerable groups of the community to be on the alert for crooks of this kind, acting on their own or in a group, who come up to them to try and dupe them into handing over donations for non-existent associations and to mug them.
They warn against going out alone carrying or wearing items of value in clear sight, pointing out these encounters are usually brief, the criminals aiming to take their victims by surprise and create confusion to steal from them.