The leader of a group of pickpockets, responsible for dozens of thefts in the Algarve, has been arrested in Spain following a Portimão police investigation.
The man, described only as “a 55-year-old foreigner with a long criminal record,” was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant and has been extradited to Portugal to face charges.
The foreigner has been in court in Portimão where it was decided that he should stay in jail, just in case he tries anything funny, like not turning up for his trial.
The man led a gang of pickpockets whose members have been on an crime spree of at least 18 months in different parts of Portugal, with a special focus on the Algarve.
The modus operandi of this group was to creep up on their targets as they were entering their PIN while completing purchases in shopping centres.
Armed with this information, the victims, most of whom were foreign retirees, then had their wallet or purse lifted as they were putting their purchases in their cars.
Now in possession of the victim’s bank card and PIN, this group of pickpockets immediately began to use bank cards to withdraw cash and to purchases goods with totals sometimes in the thousands, before the victims realised they had been robbed and alerted their banks.
The concerningly high number of thefts registered in the Algarve led the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Portimão police to investigate this local crime wave.
The police concluded that the group also operated in other areas of the country and in the south of Spain, where the pickpocket gang was located, traveling to the Algarve to steal from people.The investigation gathered evidence that linked this group to more than two dozen thefts in the Algarve.
“With this arrest, the PSP believes that it has put an end to a criminal practice that has been causing damage to victims, not only in the Algarve region but in other parts of the country,” the police statement reads.