WEALTHY retirees, preferably with an ostentatious show of wealth such as expensive watches, were the primary target for a huge Romanian crime gang which has been the subject of 42 arrests this week. Seventeen of these were women who commonly used the “hugging method” to steal from their victims, embracing men while they or an accomplice stole a watch or other valuables before fleeing in a waiting car. Most of the goods made their way back to the Tanderei region of Romania where the gang, described as a clan, originated from. The valuables were then sold on and cash laundered before being distributed.
A major operation saw the arrests this week, 38 in Spain, three in Romania and one in Portugal. The target areas had been the Costa del Sol, Catalonia and Levante coast while the gang were based in Getafe (Madrid). They were not afraid of resorting to violence and one victim lost half a finger while another was blinded in an eye after being struck. The gang lived what the police called an austere life in their Getafe base so as not to draw attention to themselves. However further afield they had luxury mansions and villas, threw lavish parties and drove high end vehicles. The police have seized 66 luxury watches, 200 items of jewellery, cash, mobiles and luxury cars which they believe is merely the tip of the iceberg. It is believed they have also been operating in Italy, Germany, Belgium, France and the UK.