Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

ONE of Spain’s biggest holiday airports is at the centre of a massive £1.7million suitcase and robbery scam.

Fourteen airport workers at Tenerife’s south airport have been arrested on suspicion of stealing from passengers’ suitcases, including Brits, and another 20 workers are still being investigated.

Civil Guard / PenzaFourteen airport workers have been arrested on suspicion of stealing from passengers[/caption]

Civil Guard / PenzaInvestigators recovered a haul of goods worth a total of £1.7million[/caption]

Civil Guard / PenzaThe airport workers allegedly stole 120 pieces of jewellery[/caption]

Nicolas Economou/NurPhotoTenerife South Airport Reina Sofia TFS GCTS in Tenerife island, Canary Islands, Spain[/caption]

The crimes are said to have been premeditated by the gang, with value of the recovered items amounting to almost €2million (£1.7million).

A police spokesman confirmed today: “The Civil Guard, within the framework of the so-called Oretel operation, has arrested 14 people and investigated another 20, all of them workers at the Sur-Reina Sofía airport in Tenerife, as alleged perpetrators of the crimes of belonging to a criminal group, robbery with force, damages and money laundering.”

The operation was launched after there was an increase in the number of reports and complaints filed by travellers due to robberies and thefts inside their checked suitcases, with those directly affected being passengers of different nationalities.

An official statement from the Civil Guard read: “The detainees took advantage of their status as airport workers.

“When the suitcases were transferred to the plane’s holds, they were loaded and unloaded at a slower pace and with greater distance between them.

“They also opened the luggage inside the hold, out of sight of the rest of the users, and punctured the zipper of the suitcases to open them completely.”

The statement continued: “Once they had removed the objects they were interested in from inside, including jewellery, cell phones, watches, and electronic devices, they closed the zipper again to leave the suitcase without any signs of tampering.

“Likewise, so that no one could notice these crimes, the detainees placed the suitcases as a parapet between the access door to the warehouse and its interior.

“They even placed security curtains, specifically rigid tarpaulins, which are actually intended to secure that the luggage does not move freely inside.

“The members of this criminal group were perfectly structured, with functions defined in a hierarchical manner, where each one was in charge of one of the parts of the commission of the crime: choosing the flight, hiding the stolen effects, removing them from the airport facilities and selling the effects in jewellery stores or through the internet, distribution of profits, etc.”

To hide the objects stolen from the airport, they allegedly used clothing with interior seams made manually as well as their own personal lockers.

The Civil Guard carried out several searches, both at the lockers of the airport workers and in their private vehicles and homes.

In total, 29 high-end watches, 120 pieces of jewellery (gold and precious stones), 22 high-end mobile phones, electronic devices, €13,000 (£11,000) in cash and a high-end vehicle were seized.

The value of all the stolen objects recovered amounted to €1.95million (£1. 67million).

It is alleged the detainees managed to sell many objects in physical and virtual second-hand stores, which is why 27 jewellery stores in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife are also being investigated.

The investigation has been carried out by the Fiscal Investigation and Border Analysis Unit of the Tenerife South Airport with the support of the Citizen Security Unit.

The Civil Guard has had the support of the State Aviation Safety Agency, Spanish Airports and Air Navigation, as well as the different airlines that operate at Reina Sofía Airport.

And the operation has been directed by the Court of Instruction No. 4 of Granadilla de Abona.

Civil Guard / PenzaTwenty-nine high-end watches were seized by the Civil Guard following searches of the airport workers’ lockers, homes, and cars[/caption]

Civil Guard / PenzaWhat appears to be a wedding ring is hidden inside a pair of headphones[/caption]

Civil Guard / PenzaSunglasses, jewellery, perfumes, and various electronic devices were stolen from passengers[/caption]

Civil Guard / PenzaThe Civil Guard carried out searches in airport workers’ private vehicles[/caption]

Civil Guard / PenzaAirport workers’ lockers were also searched[/caption]

Civil Guard / PenzaThe Civil Guard was supported by the AESA, AENA, and the airlines that operate at Reina Sofía Airport in the investigation[/caption]

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