The Guardia Civil has broken up a criminal organisation which used the “warm embrace” technique to commit theft. Fifteen people of Romanian origin have been detained, plus arrest orders for three more who have fled Spain. All were allegedly members of a gang believed to have committed over 30 offences.
The police operation began in Nerja and Torrox when a number of crime reports were filed. Since then suspects have been detained across the country, including in Málaga, while goods believed to have been stolen have been seized along with other effects and documentation.
Typically, the gang would identify a target, particularly elderly foreign men wearing expensive watches, and while a woman then approached and distracted him by hugging him like an old friend, his valuables would be stolen. The gang would then vanish in a waiting high-speed vehicle. One such incident in Nerja resulted in the victim being wounded after realising he was being robbed and a struggle ensued.
Investigators discovered the gang was made up of members of an extended family from Madrid who moved around the country in an effort to avoid detection. They are said to have owned around 100 cars which gang members used to travel throughout Spain.
When they resurfaced in Nerja again last December, three very active gang members were detained while jewellery and watches from their illegal activity was found hidden in their vehicle. Further arrests have been made in Getafe, Parla and Barcelona, including the detention of individuals found to be selling goods stolen by the gang.