The investigation began last month when police seized 20 smart phones and 40 smart watches. They had been hidden in a vehicle bound for Morocco. The stolen mobile phones and other property had been placed between luggage and various other perfectly legal items. Moreover, it was discovered while the vehicle was still in the port of Tarifa.
Following this, less than a week later, 2 more people were arrested. This was also in the port of Tarifa, and had similar characteristics to the first arrests.
At this point, the Guardia Civil suspected the items could have been stolen during various ferias in the Campo de Gibraltar area. There had been various reports of stolen items in this region.
The Guardia Civil managed to locate a first shipment located in the industrial estate of Palmones (Los Barrios). In this warehouse, where its two “guards” were detained, hundreds of packaged and objects ready on pallets were found. Seemingly they had come from different locations in Spain and abroad. Among these items, were 759 stolen smartphone mobile terminals.
Several million euros worth of stolen items
In addition, at the same warehouse, 45 electric scooters, disassembled motorbikes, 180 laptops, various electronic, computer and photographic devices, and boxes of labelled clothing from well-known brands were found.
The nearly 3,000 items would have had a street value of several million euros.
Furthermore, pyrotechnic material with a net weight of explosive matter of 1007 kilograms, without the specifications or regulatory authorisations were also found. This explosive posed a serious risk to the safety of the surrounding buildings and workers. Therefore, those arrested were also committing a crime of illegal deposit of explosive substances.
With the information obtained in this first warehouse, the researchers were able to discover two other industrial buildings with similar characteristics in the same Palmones industrial estate. When searches were then carried out, more stolen mobile terminals were located.
The arrests occurred in three industrial buildings in Los Barrios (Cádiz) and others in vehicles that intended to embark through the ports of Algeciras and Tarifa.
So far there are 7 detainees. However, further arrests are not ruled out.
Stolen at ferias
As a result of the actions carried out to date, the Guardia Civil found out that some of the recovered smartphones had been stolen at ferias in Los Barrios, Algeciras and La Línea. This, therefore, confirmed their initial suspicions.
It was also found that many of the recovered mobiles had also been stolen at other ferias in the towns of Vélez Málaga, Alhaurín de la Torre, and Estepona, as well as other places further afield such as Gijón, Vitoria, Barcelona or Almería.
Furthermore, different international police cooperation mechanisms are being used. This includes Interpol, to find out the illicit origin of other recovered objects. This is the case of the photographic material found on one of the ships, which is suspected to come from the Netherlands or Belgium.
Display of stolen items
Given the large number of recovered mobile terminals and electronic devices that have not yet been identified by their legitimate owners, the Algeciras Guardia Civil Command will exhibit this material in its facilities between July 28 and August 5, between 9.00 am to 12.00 noon on weekdays.
If you feel you may have been a victim of this crime, the police invite you to contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then you will be given the necessary instructions to attend the exhibition.