THE Policia Nacional has taken down an international pickpocketing gang which preyed on tourists in Mallorca.

A total of 34 members, all of Romanian nationality, were arrested during multiple raids across the island yesterday.

The suspects had targeted unsuspecting tourists in Palma over several years, stepping up their activity by recruiting new members during high season.

Their mode of operation was to steal wallets and purses from holidaymakers while they were distracted inside stores.

According to the police, the gang had stolen several million euros since they began their criminal activity by undertaking thousands of thefts.

The arrests form part of a large-scale investigation between the Policia Nacional’s Organised Crime Group and the Policia Local.

Covert surveillance led to over 20 dawn raids involving more than 120 officers in s’Arenal, Son Ferriol, Coll d’en Rabassa and La Vileta as well as multiple points in Palma.

The investigators managed, as they intended, to surprise all of the suspects while they were sleeping in their beds.

Searches of the premises uncovered stolen items and documentation with a luxury BMW being seized.

All those arrested have been charged with money laundering and membership to a criminal organisation.

It comes as Spain has seen a wave of violent pickpocketing incidents in recent years.

At the end of last year, a group of British expats were forced to patrol the streets after a series of violent muggings in Los Alcazares on the Costa Blanca.

A British man was also assaulted in Benidorm after trying to stop a group of men from stealing from elderly tourists.

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