Taken as a group, the young men aged from 19 to 24 years have a total of nearly 300 arrests
By R. Carranco
Translated from the Spanish by Nicki Easy
They were the terror of tourists. These ten thieves in the limelight of aggravated robbery in Barcelona have been arrested. The group of young men ranging in age from 19 to 24 primarily assaulted visitors to the city (75% of their victims) walking through the Eixample and Ciutat Vella districts. La Rambla was their favorite area for hunting down unsuspecting victims.
Altogether the ten thieves have been taken into police custody 257 times. They dedicated their existence to making off with wallets and handbags, cell phones, watches, chains—personal objects they could sell easily on the black market. They used various techniques to remove these items from their owners in addition to beating them, from the classic bag-snatching to the “Ronaldinho technique” (playing soccer to lure victims).
The “Ronaldinho technique”
Without blinking an eye, they would rip any gold chain they saw from its owner or brandish a knife or syringe to achieve their aim. They even sometimes attacked victims with stones or grabbed them by the neck and choked them to daze them and leave them defenseless. On one occasion, one of the hoodlums managed to spray his mark with solvent.
The thieves, of Moroccan origin, usually operated alone, though that didn’t stop them from lending each other a hand from time to time. All of them had at one time been placed in a juvenile facility, as Ramon Grasa, chief inspector of investigations for the Barcelona metropolitan area, explained in a press conference yesterday. Most of them had no known address. They usually stayed in boarding houses where they rented rooms for short periods.
Nine of the ten detainees were initially held in custody by court order, but three have already been released, Grasa said. The tenth never set foot in jail. The operation was a joint effort between the Mossos d’Esquadra and the Barcelona District Attorney’s Office. Drawing from computer files showing the individuals with the most arrests for aggravated robbery, the police launched an offensive to detain them. The crackdown lasted four months, during which time they were each individually arrested. Most were caught in flagrante.
The ‘top ten’ had previously been detained in juvenile facilities
- Ahmed R., 21, 43 prior arrests. One of the most violent. In prison.
- Mohamed Said H., 20, 39 prior arrests. Posed as a public relations representative for nightclubs. Was physically violent. In prison.
- Rachid O., 24, 39 prior arrests. Played soccer to lure his victims (Ronaldinho technique). Yanked their bag or gold chain from them. In prison.
- Ayoub Y., 21, 28 prior arrests. Used knives to rob victims. In prison.
- Anouar E K., 21, 28 prior arrests. Tripped victims. Released from custody.
- Yassin B., 20, 25 prior arrests. Sometimes worked with an accomplice. Had no qualms about striking the victim with a rock. In prison.
- Sofiane B., 19, 18 prior arrests. Was fixated on older women’s gold chains. Would not hesitate to injure the women to tear them off. Released from custody.
- Rabie B., 22, 16 prior arrests. Choked victims from behind until they were dizzy to rob them. In prison.
- Bendahiba H., 19, 12 prior arrests. Robbed bags from inattentive victims. Released from custody.
- Soufian E S., 19, 9 prior arrests. Worked at night, won the trust of victims and violently relieved them of their bags. Released from custody.
Source: El País newspaper 29 March 2011