British holidaymakers warned of vile 'spitting thieves' in Spanish tourist hotspot

23 June 2023, 06:24 | Updated: 23 June 2023, 07:28

Police have warned tourists be alert to ‘distractions of any kind’ after revolting tactic is used on public metro systems
Police have warned tourists be alert to ‘distractions of any kind’ after revolting tactic is used on public metro systems. Picture: Police
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

British holidaymakers in Spain have received a warning from the Spanish police about a gang of thieves who employ a particularly vile modus operandi.

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The criminals spit on their unsuspecting victims and then use the distraction to offer assistance in cleaning up the mess.

Detectives have released video footage of these bag snatchers in action, demonstrating how they collaborate to target individuals, including a blonde woman and a young traveller, on the metro system in Barcelona.

The first incident captured on camera shows a man wearing a black baseball cap spitting on the woman from behind while she is purchasing a tube ticket.

He then pretends to be a Good Samaritan, offering to clean up the saliva he left on her hair. The woman quickly realizes something has hit her and turns around, but the cunning criminal anticipates her reaction and swiftly turns away, assuming a facade of innocence.

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A a man in a black baseball cap is filmed spitting on the woman from behind as she buys a tube ticket and then offering to clear up the saliva he has left in her hair.
A a man in a black baseball cap is filmed spitting on the woman from behind as she buys a tube ticket and then offering to clear up the saliva he has left in her hair. Picture: Police

Simultaneously, his accomplice, sporting a white baseball cap, seizes the opportunity to divert her attention away from a rucksack she had been holding close to her chest.

Once the accomplice snatches the bag, he signals that his train is arriving and disappears, leaving the victim to realize that she has fallen victim to these clever con artists when it is already too late.

The second incident depicted in the released footage mirrors the same deplorable tactic. A young man with a small suitcase and a laptop is targeted by a man, believed to be the same perpetrator, on a Barcelona metro platform.

The criminal spits on the back of the victim's hoodie and promptly turns away before the victim can identify the source of the impact.

Capitalizing on the ensuing confusion, the accomplice seizes the opportunity to snatch the victim's laptop while posing as a sympathetic helper who offers to clean up the mess. In the few seconds, it takes for the victim to divert his attention, his belongings are stolen.

Accompanying the video footage, a spokesperson for the regional Mossos d'Esquadra police force issued a warning, urging people to remain vigilant and wary of any distractions caused by strangers, whether on public transport, in the street, or elsewhere. The message emphasized the importance of keeping personal belongings under control at all times.

While it remains uncertain whether this gang operates in other parts of Spain, Barcelona has garnered attention in recent years for its security issues, particularly in relation to professional watch theft.

The city has become a favoured destination for watch thieves from various locations, including Naples. Incidents involving high-profile individuals like tennis star Grigor Dimitrov and Barcelona footballer Robert Lewandowski have highlighted the prevalence of such crimes.

In response, authorities have urged residents and visitors to exercise caution and take necessary precautions to protect themselves from these types of criminal activities.

Additionally, Barcelona faced another concerning incident when a UK tourist was stabbed last year, and the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of rugby player and reality TV star Levi Davis, who was trying to fend off bag snatchers, are still under investigation.