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The car after it had been broken into and stolen. R. C.
Police in Spain warn people not to leave house keys in parked cars as new crime wave emerges
Crime

Police in Spain warn people not to leave house keys in parked cars as new crime wave emerges

A few months ago Guardia Civil officers uncovered a gang behind more than 60 burglaries that had taken place across Andalucía. This is the story of a 78-year-old victim and details how the crime method works...

Juan Cano

Malaga

Tuesday, 2 April 2024, 19:35

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You arrive at your destination. Sun, beach and relaxation. You park your car near the apartment and forget about the outside world. You also leave your house keys in the glove compartment of the car. After all, you won't need them for a few days and you're in a safe, quiet place. Or so you think.

The Guardia Civil in Spain has warned via its social media that the habit of leaving house keys in the car has led to a rise in home burglaries all across Spain. According to police force there are organised gangs that first break the windows of vehicles to steal the valuables inside and then, if they find a set of keys, they check the car's documentation, or a fuel or garage bill - the typical things that get left in the glove compartment - to locate the owner's address and then burgle it.

A few months ago Guardia Civil officers in Huelva arrested four people and investigated six others in Operation Habitat, which uncovered more than 60 burglaries that had taken place across Andalucía. One of the victims of the gang was Antonio, a 78-year-old pensioner who lives between Seville and Cordoba, although he usually spends his summer holidays in the coastal town of Matalascañas in Huelva province.

"I usually leave my car in a car park near my house. I even put a tarpaulin over it so that it doesn't get dusty, because I don't even take it into Huelva. I don't even know the day the breakin happened," Antonio explained. At the end of July - that he does remember - he went to start the car so that it wouldn't run out of battery power and was surprised to find that a window had been broken. "A neighbour later told me that he saw a person looking in the car, but he thought it was a relative or something. In fact, it was one of the thieves."

Antonio admitted that at the time, "like many people", he was in the habit of leaving his keys in the glove compartment, including the keys to his safe. Even so, he thought that only four things had been stolen from the car. But no. When he reported the incident to the Guardia Civil, Antonio realised that among the papers in the glove compartment was an invoice from the garage with his tax address, which is in the province of Cordoba.

"The Guardia Civil asked me to check that property, so I asked a neighbour to take a look and he told me that at first glance everything was fine. The officers insisted and asked me to check inside. They must have had some information," the victim recalled.

Antonio interrupted his holiday and took the car - he covered the broken window with tarpaulin - to drive to Cordoba to take a look at the house. As soon as he entered he could see that the burglars had broken in. The interior of the house was in disarray and the safe was open.

"How can you imagine that they would drive 300 kilometres to steal from you? Well, it happened to me. They took the keys I left in the car and ransacked my house," said Antonio, who since then said he has not even left his glasses case in the car. The thieves took quite a lot of costume jewellery that his wife kept in the safe, as well as the documentation for a Rolex and a gold ring, which is the only thing that was not recovered when the Guardia Civil arrested the thieves.

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