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Windows of different shops after being burgled in the early hours of the morning, SUR
Wave of break-ins hits shops and bars in Estepona as business owners adopt new tactic to try and thwart the thieves
Crime

Wave of break-ins hits shops and bars in Estepona as business owners adopt new tactic to try and thwart the thieves

Last weekend, thieves tried to break into about five businesses, with a dozen more recorded in recent weeks

Irene Quirante

Malaga

Monday, 8 April 2024, 17:42

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A spate of recent break-ins on shops and bars in Estepona has sparked concern among traders and business owners. The latest incident took place in the early hours of Thursday 4 April. It follows a string of burglaries where, according to sources, at least a dozen have occurred, many of them in businesses located in the town centre.

The alleged thieves behind many of the crimes have already been identified and arrested on several occasions. However, they allegedly return to a life of crime as soon as they are released. The alarm generated among shopkeepers has led to extra National Police patrols in the area, sources said.

Last month, five suspects, aged between 17 and 45, were arrested for their alleged involvement in at least five thefts committed in shops in Estepona. Two of them were remanded in custody and three were released. In the majority of these incidents, the robbers allegedly broke in - or attempted to do so - by breaking windows or doors.

The wave of break-ins, according to victims, started to gain momentum last February and has not stopped since then. According to police sources, not a week goes by where no new robberies in the early hours of the morning occur, which is keeping the town's shopkeepers and business owners on tenterhooks. Last weekend alone, thieves reportedly tried to break into five businesses, with two of them succeeding.

Recent thefts

One of the latest victims was Carol Sanabria, owner of the Móviles Carol phone shop, after an attempted burglary in the early hours of Thursday 4 April. Although the thieves did not succeed, they did cause significant damage to the window of the shop, located in calle Del Cid. "Luckily the alarm went off, that's why they couldn't get in," she pointed out.

Her husband rushed to the shop after receiving the alert and saw three hooded people running away. Apparently, they used a stone to break the window. That same night, Sanabria said they managed to break into a bar located in a nearby street, in Caridad street. "They cause a lot of headaches by causing damage in order to maybe take four euros, or nothing at all," Sanabria said.

This is the fifth time her establishment has been broken into since it opened six years ago, she said. Fortunately, none of the robberies were as serious as the first one, when thieves fled with 5,000 euros. "I never heard about that money again, but I learned my lesson there; you don't leave anything of value and you have to have security systems in place," she said.

Sabores Gourmet, run by Rafael Cerrada and located in Avenida España, is another business that has been involved in a robbery lately. "It was in the early hours of Saturday morning and we found the surprise the next day, with the glass shattered," Gourmet said.

The following night, between Sunday and Monday, clothes shop Fondo de Armario, also located in Avenida España, was targeted. "We were broken into at around 1am, and all to take a ten-euro note," owner Elena Prieto said.

Visible cash register

Vanesa Sánchez, owner of another business on Avenida España, said her shop, Via Vai, was one of the first targeted in the crime wave. "They do the same, they enter between half past midnight and midnight, breaking the windows and going straight for the till, with which they flee; the worst thing is that you feel as if they have broken into your house," she said.

This theft was recorded by a security camera. In the video, seen by SUR, a person with their face hidden by a cap enters and leaves after taking the cash register in barely 15 seconds. The cash register contained some 200 euros, said Sánchez. "Since then I leave the drawer open on the floor so that they can see that there is no money," she added.

This same technique has been adopted by Jorge Ramírez, of the Lolita Shop, to dissuade criminals and avoid another robbery like the one he also suffered last February in his shop on Avenida España. "I leave it visible so they know they are not going to take anything and don't come back," he said.

In addition to the money in the cash register, they stole more than ten items of clothing from his shop, he said. "They were roaming around the shop, so much so they even ate here, and the next day I found the remains of the food on the counter," Ramírez said.

Ramírez, and other shopkeepers are calling on more police to patrol at night to scare off the thieves before they break into another business.

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