How a quest to find stolen AirPods led to a double kidnapping and 14 arrests on the Costa del Sol

How a quest to find stolen AirPods led to a double kidnapping and 14 arrests on the Costa del Sol

A group of French tourists took the law into their own hands and tracked down their valuables via an application on their phone, but things turned ugly from then onwards

Juan Cano


Friday, 3 November 2023, 11:42


A group of 13 French tourists who were allegedly robbed at their luxury villa in Mijas tracked down the thieves but eventually ended up being arrested themselves.

Among the valuables stolen at their rented villa on 9 September were Apple headphones, so they checked the 'find my AirPods' application and tracked down their location. Cash and an iPad were also stolen in the theft.

The holidaymakers went to an address in Benalmádena two days later, to a residential development in the Torrequebrada area. The group, travelling in three cars, arrived at the house and allegedly broke in and beat up the owner of the property, a French man of Moroccan origin. They found the AirPods, but didn't find the rest of their valuables.

The homeowner told them he had had nothing to do with the theft and that he had bought the headphones from an Algerian acquaintance. The tourists allegedly forced him to lead them to the person who sold him the AirPods. Security cameras at the housing estate captured footage of him being taken away allegedly against his will.

That same day, 11 September, the French holidaymakers located the Algerian man who had sold the AirPods in a bar in Fuengirola. Once the group of tourists found him they released the Moroccan man and allegedly kidnapped the Algerian man and took him to his home.

There, they allegedly held him against his will and beat him while demanding he return the other stolen valuables. They were still unable to recover their items and so they took 25 luxury watches and designer clothes from the man's house, according to National Police investigators.

Officers were then alerted to the second alleged kidnapping and scrambled to the area. Police stopped two vehicles, freed the kidnapping victim and arrested nine of the French tourists - they also recovered the 25 watches, which were all counterfeit. Police then spotted the third car and arrested the four remaining French tourists in Puerto Banús.

Udyco serious crime officers on the Costa del Sol took charge of the investigation and accused the 13 tourists of belonging to a criminal organisation despite them having no previous convictions or outstanding arrest warrants in Spain. They were charged with illegally detaining, causing injury, breaking and entering and robbery with violence. The Algerian man who allegedly sold the AirPods was also arrested and charged.

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