Robberies: The band of thieves ‘handymen’ on the Costa del Sol is dismantled | Spain


Oxyfuel is a specialized technique used to cut thick metal sheets and bars. Parts with which a radial cannot and this system can, first heating the metal to a thousand degrees and later releasing a jet of oxygen that executes the cut. It is complex and requires technical knowledge, but it was the daily way in which a criminal organization based in Malaga opened safes during their robberies. It was just part of a millimeter process that included drones, frequency inhibitors, transmission equipment, cylinder pullers and a huge range of tools worthy of the best specialized workshop. The National Police has detained its seven members in the provinces of Malaga, Cádiz and Valencia, of which four are already in prison. They are blamed for a score of assaults on offices and warehouses on the Costa del Sol.

The gang was led by a 41-year-old British citizen and a 26-year-old Spanish citizen. The criminals’ procedure, according to what the agents have been able to find out, was very similar in each case. The first step was to do some great planning detailing every move. To do this, they visited industrial estates to study the terrain and, sometimes, even legally accessed their objectives. They pretended to be workers from a security or telephone company, spoke with those responsible and, during that time, they located where the offices were or what security measures the space had. They also used drones “to carry out preliminary surveillance on establishments and warehouses” that their objective was, as explained by Inspector Manuel Velázquez of the group of robberies from the Malaga provincial police station during a press conference held this morning. His team has been responsible for developing the operation, called Way II.

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When they had drawn up the plan, the group would travel to the chosen place – always in towns on the Costa del Sol – in high-end, large-displacement cars. Once on the ground, they deployed a huge variety of specialized tools while maintaining radio communication. To gain access to the facilities where he wanted to steal, they either extracted the bowlers from the locks or they fractured them directly, but other times – as they agreed – they directly broke the walls of an adjoining premises – they practiced a butron – or they sneaked through the roofs. Inside, they forced the safes to steal the money and, in case it was a process that took too long, they directly took it away, transporting it in vans or trucks that they had previously stolen and in which they also loaded other stolen belongings. When necessary, they used the oxyfuel technique, which according to police information “requires great skill” and generally has industrial applications.

The members of the band took great security measures. Generally, they rented cars to the names of people with no prior history to travel to other cities in the Spanish geography, in which they spent different intermittent periods after their robberies. In addition, they used usurped identities to complete the procedures in the accommodations where they tried to disappear for a time. Part of the stolen objects were kept in a warehouse that they had occupied in an industrial estate in Marbella. Among them were stolen boats that served groups related to drug trafficking in the area.

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The investigation to find them began at the end of last summer, after a series of robberies with similar characteristics that led to think that the authors were the same. As the agents advanced, they discovered that the perpetrators could be the same as those investigated in the Way I operation carried out in 2020. They were people who made up a “perfectly organized” and “highly professional” group that settled on the Costa del Sol but it had ramifications in Madrid and Cádiz.

Finally, the National Police developed a device in coordination with the Court of Instruction Number 10 of Malaga that included the entry and search of five homes and two storage rooms on the Costa del Sol and culminated in the arrest of all members of the criminal gang investigated , that is, seven people, including the leaders. Of those arrested, three were in Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Estepona, while another three fell in San Fernando (Cádiz) and one more in Gandia (Valencia). They are blamed for a good string of crimes: belonging to a criminal organization, robbery, documentary falsification, against traffic safety, drug trafficking, vehicle theft, judicial claim and usurpation of real estate.

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Among the intervened objects are a multitude of tools – from screwdrivers and binoculars to jacks or knives – as well as inhibitors and frequency detectors, acetylene and oxygen bottles for opening safes, a drone for studying the roofs of ships , specific tools for making butrons, lock cylinder extractors, transmission equipment or three high-end cars, as well as a five-meter-long boat stolen in Marbella and 15 grams of synthetic drug. All the seized material is valued at half a million euros, according to the police.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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