Civil Guard breaks up a group of Maghrebians on the highway who robbed Ukrainian families fleeing the war
They took advantage of the victims’ situation, their lack of knowledge of the language and of the area where they found themselves
by J.M. Zuloaga
March 27, 2022
The Civil Guard has arrested R.M.J. (47) and identified another person as the alleged perpetrators of eight crimes of random theft — one of them attempted and another three for damages to the interior of cars parked in service areas. They form part of a group of Maghrebians who are involved in this type of criminal activity. The total of possessions and money taken amounts to more than €10,250. Among their victims were Ukrainian families who were fleeing the war.
It involved a very active criminal group, specializing in thefts in service areas, who selected the victims from among older couples, and always in vehicles of foreign origin, taking advantage of their trips to service areas or establishments in areas not covered by security cameras.
After the choice of their target, one of the perpetrators would distract the victims, asking for information of some type, or flattening one of the rear tires, while the other would move unseen toward the vehicle, stealing bags, backpacks, wallets, or valuable electronic devices.
Information obtained by the Civil Guard led to the arrest of the leader of the group in a service area of Alfajarin (Zaragoza), and the identification of another of the members of this itinerant gang operating in service areas of highways A-1, A-62, and AP7, which gives an example of their mobility and versatility.
Among the victims a family of Ukrainian nationality stands out, who were fleeing the war to settle in our country, and from whom was stolen the money and what few articles of value they had managed to leave Ukraine with, further aggravating their helpless situation. This family reported that, on March 3, when they were traveling in their car from Ukraine with the intention of residing in Spain, while making a bathroom and rest stop in an area of the AP-7 highway in the province of Castellon, a group of five individuals approached them to tell them they had a flat tire and to offer them help.
While one of them kept the victims busy, the others took advantage of the fact that the vehicle was open to take some €7,000, jewels, plane tickets, keys to the apartment where they lived in Ukraine, and a mobile phone, among other possessions, from the interior.
The selection of foreign national victims was not by chance; rather they always chose foreigners in transit to take advantage of the language barriers they had when filing a complaint, as well as the subsequent difficulties encountered in the judicial process, both in attending hearings and identifying the perpetrators, thus providing considerable impunity for the criminals.
In addition, when they felt that they had already devastated a certain area or when the police presence increased considerably, they changed the area of operations. The perpetrators are repeat offenders and have a long previous history of similar offenses. They specialize in this type of theft due to its low penal distinction in dealing with less serious crimes.