7 Jun, 2024 @ 11:24
1 min read

Russian-run gang steals cars from Ukrainian refugees in Spain and sells them across Europe

Russian-run gang steals cars from Ukrainian refugees in Spain and sells them across Europe

A RUSSIAN-LED gang has been busted for stealing cars from Ukrainian refugees in Spain and selling them to buyers across Europe.

When some of the victims asked for help on social networks to locate their stolen car, the crew contacted them and demanded a large ransom to get back their vehicle.

A joint Guardia Civil-Policia Nacional operation resulted in the arrest of six men and five more being investigated of Lithuanian, Russian and Ukrainian nationalities.

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SEIZED MONEY

They have been charged with 25 counts of vehicle theft, 11 crimes of extortion, document forgery and membership of a criminal organisation.

Among those detained is the gang leader, a 48-year-old man, of Russian nationality, who lived in San Pedro de Alcantara in Malaga province who processed and sold the stolen cars.

25 victims were located in Alicante, Calpe, Pilar de la Horadada, El Verger, Guardamar, Torrevieja and Villajoyosa- all in Alicante province- as well as in Murcia at San Pedro del Pinatar, and further south in Marbella.

The value of the stolen vehicles totalled €1 million with individual values between €30,000 and €90,000.

15 cars were recovered along with €140,000 in cash.

A police operation was launched in early 2023 after a significant rise in medium to high range car thefts in the Alicante, Malaga and Murcia areas.

Vehicles were stolen at night and were driven to Malaga province before the owner even realised what had happened.

The thieves used dual carriageways and motorways to reach their destination as soon as possible.

They even used a shuttle vehicle which made it easier for them not to be discovered by police in case there were check points on their route.

If circumstances did not allow for an immediate transfer to Malaga, vehicles were parked up on up- market urbanisations where they would not be noticed, and would be picked up after a few days.

Once in Malaga, the vehicles were again left parked in the street to check that the police had not located them,.

Changes were then made to the VIN number on the chassis and false number plates put on, before the cars were sold via a phone app sales channel to customers across Europe.

Some of the victims asked for help through of groups of fellow Ukrainians on social media to recover their cars.

A member of the gang intercepted the postings and offered to recover their cars by asking for between €10,000 and €20,000 paid in cryptocurrency.

Once the owner agreed to the deal, they were told where to go to recover their car and threatened with violence if they did not withdraw their police complaint.

They were to tell police that they ‘got it wrong’ and had merely forgotten where they had parked their vehicle.

Authorities found 11 victims of these extortions, some of whom, despite having paid, did not get their car back.

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