Hats, wigs and other items that were recovered by the National Police. / SUR

Malaga airport luggage theft gangs sent packing by police

Posing as passengers or airport workers, the suspects would prowl the airport arrivals area in search of vulnerable victims in order to steal their belongings

SUR

The National Police have smashed two organised crime groups that specialised in thefts of luggage and travel bags from passengers at the Malaga-Costa del Sol airport.

Five people have been arrested, two of them alleged members of a Serbian gang and another three of a network of French-Algerian origin, who took advantage of distracted passengers, while they were putting their luggage into rental vehicles or taxis, to steal their suitcases and travel bags.

Airport police made the arrests after reports of half a dozen thefts and one robbery with force, and found, among other items, wigs, caps and hats which the suspects used to disguise themselves and avoid being identified. In addition, officers recovered lockpick-type tools which were allegedly used to commit the crimes.

While investigations continue, the courts have issued a restraining order forbidding the suspects of approaching within 1,000 metres by of the airport facilities.

According to the investigators, the alleged thieves would prowl the airport arrivals area in search of vulnerable victims in order to steal their belongings. To do this, the police say, they pretended to be travellers with backpacks, handbags or other accessories, or posing as airport terminal workers.

While some of the gang members carried distracted the victims, others allegedly stole their belongings.

One of the groups, made up of members of French-Algerian origin, was found using a vehicle with a French registration plates. Investigations led to the identification of three members of the organisation with numerous records of theft and robbery. They were located and arrested in a Malaga hotel.

Two Serbian members of the other group were caught, red-handed, at the airport taxi area, mingling with passengers, and looking for victims. Police found them carrying numerous hats and caps, two wigs, a pick to open vehicle locks, over 1,000 euros in cash, several mobile phones and travel bags. The arrested people have a record of crimes of a similar nature at the Madrid-Barajas and at the Barcelona-El Prat airports.