The suspect carrying two legs of Serrano ham / CNP

Ham suspect caught legging it red-handed after spate of thefts from indoor market

The police believe he is responsible for at least six thefts of this type late at night, after gaining access to the interior through the air conditioning system

IRENE QUIRANTE Malaga

They had been after him since November, because of a wave of thefts in Malaga city’s Huelin market since then. On Tuesday night, around 10.45pm, the alarm went off again and this time officers from the National Police’s Gotham group caught the suspect red-handed, after stealing two hams from one of the stalls. “It’s my first time, I’ve never done this before,” said the man, who is suspected of at least six robberies in the same market.

They didn’t find it easy to arrest the 52-year-old, and had to call the fire brigade to come and help because he tried to escape via the roof. When they entered the premises, the police officers found him crouched behind one of the market stalls, and in his attempt to get away he climbed up an air conditioning unit and got through a small ventilation hole leading to the roof outside. One of the police officers followed him and managed to grab him on the roof.

“I didn’t think any of the police could fit through that hole,” was the first thing the man said, when he realised he had no way to escape. The officers discovered that he had left two legs of Serrano ham on the roof, intending to carry them down to the street when he made his getaway.

He is believed to have climbed a streetlamp to gain access to the roof of the market, and had then used the air conditioning vent to gain access to the interior.

Delicatessen stall ransacked

The police found that one of the delicatessen stalls in the market had been completely ransacked, with the cash register on the floor and the outside shutter forced open. On this occasion the suspect hadn’t taken any money, because since these robberies began the stallholders no longer leave cash on the premises.

The market traders hope this has put an end to the wave of thefts they have experienced in recent months, which have always occurred at night. The man arrested on Tuesday night is believed to have participated in six robberies of this type in the Huelin market, and the police say they can’t rule out the possibility that he has also been involved in others.