They specialised in robbing houses, but not just any old house: they liked luxury villas which were the homes of celebrities or business leaders. Five people have been detained in Malaga and another two in Denia, Alicante, on suspicion of having broken into a house belonging to former Brazilian footballer Ronaldo Nazário in Ibiza on 28 June, where Italian footballer Marco Verrati was staying. They are also linked to at least nine robberies from expensive properties on the Costa del Sol.
With these arrests, the police have broken up a gang which is based in Albania, following an investigation which began at the end of last year into a wave of robberies of luxury homes in Malaga, Murcia and Ibiza. The suspects are said to have taken advantage of the New Year celebrations to break into the homes, and they stole items worth 300,000 euros.
They usually covered their faces with fancy dress masks and climbed over the outside walls, using highly sophisticated transmission equipment to communicate with each other. They also used high-powered cars to make their getaways. The police discovered that these had been hired and the registration plates changed.
A married couple from Malaga are also accused of collaborating with the gang by identifying luxury villas which they believed would be ideal for the robberies and providing vehicles, money and accommodation for the perpetrators.
The police discovered that the suspects travelled on the same day to Malaga city, Barcelona and Ibiza, which led them to believe they were planning another robbery. On 28 June they learned that the gang members could be on a ferry from Ibiza to Denia, and set up a surveillance operation in the port.
Meanwhile, they also received information that in the early hours of the morning a robbery had taken place in Ronaldo’s villa on Ibiza, and the thieves had stolen jewellery and watches worth three million euros.
As soon as the suspects’ car drove off the ferry, the police stopped it and found several luxury watches inside the airbag compartment. These matched the description of items which had gone missing from the villa. A detailed search of the vehicle afterwards revealed more hidden compartments, with the other jewellery which had been reported stolen.