Thieves have stolen two safes containing around 50,000 euros from the offices of the Nerja Caves. The robbers broke into the offices in the early hours of Sunday morning and made off with the safes, which also contained 80 lottery tickets featuring the 60th anniversary logo of the discovery of the caves.
The empty safes were found on Monday by a hiker, around 200 metres from the offices, in the mountains near to the cave. The thieves had forced them open, taken the contents and abandoned them.
Guardia Civil officers, who are investigating the case, believe the criminals looked for the codes as all of the drawers in the office had been opened. The money had been left in the safes at the office and was due to be taken by a security company.
The thieves also destroyed a ticket machine and broke into the restaurant, although there is no evidence to suggest that they took anything from there. Officers are analysing security cameras as well as looking at the timetable of staff at the cave and companies who lend services to the tourist attraction and are searching for the culprits.
The thieves used ladders to get into the offices via the first floor windows, which do not have bars on them. The ladders had been left on the site by builders who are carrying out work to the area around the offices.
Cuevas de Nerja manager, Chema Domínguez, confirmed to SUR that he and his team are "working to increase security" at the cave "to avoid a repetition of last weekend's incident". He added that cave staff are "waiting to see how the investigation develops" and are "confident that the Guardia Civil will solve the crime and find the culprits".
60th anniversary celebrations
The theft comes at the start of a series of events planned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the caves by five local boys who were playing in the area on 12 January 1959, when they came across an opening to the archaeological site.
The stolen lottery tickets had been issued by the state lottery and betting office as part of the celebrations and the four surviving members of the group that discovered the caves, along with the widow of the fifth member, will be attending an event at the caves today, Friday, to commemorate their historic discovery.
Domínguez said that the robbery had been "very unpleasant" and that the year had "started badly" for the caves, but added that he is "confident" that tightened security will "prevent anything like this from happening again."