ALBUFEIRA GNR officers have been busy throughout March, dealing with reports of stolen cars, drink drivers, illegal residents and robberies. In all, nine people, between the ages of 20 and 50, were arrested in just one week.
The first arrests were made after two men and a woman drove past an English woman walking in the centre of Albufeira, leaned out of their car and snatched her handbag. It later transpired that the Mercedes used by the gang had been stolen from the Mafra area of Lisbon.
According to a GNR source, the authorities were able to track down the stolen vehicle to a parking lot in Guia, where the trio and another man were later arrested. Police have since confirmed that the 25-year-old man and 38-year-old woman had lived together for some time in an apartment in Albufeira. The other man arrested in the operation was staying with the couple in Albufeira, but originally lived in Monte Abrão. All three individuals are expected to be sentenced in an Albufeira court this week.
GNR officers also arrested two Ukrainian men after they were spotted peering into several cars parked on the Avenida 25 de Abril in Olhos d’Água. According to our source, both suspects fled from the scene when the policemen on patrol approached them. Despite their attempt to avoid arrest, the men were later picked up by a police patrol and it quickly transpired that one of them had been arrested in the past for stealing from cars and that both were living in Portugal illegally.
Three individuals, one Brazilian and two Portuguese, were arrested for driving while over the legal alcohol limit.
Mobile phone shops have always been a favourite target for criminals in Albufeira. Last year, several mobile phone shops were broken into and equipment worth thousands of euros was stolen.
The latest robbery occurred in a Vodafone shop on one of the town’s main shopping streets, at around 2am. According to eyewitnesses, a gang of three or four people climbed out of a Honda Civic and broke into the store. Although the alarm, which was connected to the GNR station, went off, alerting everyone in the area, the criminals proved too quick for the police. By the time officers reached the shop, the gang was long gone. “It all happened in a matter of minutes,” said a local resident.
Less than half an hour later, GNR officers received a call informing them that the Honda was parked outside another mobile phone shop in Castro Verde – an estimated 80km distance from the first crime scene – a fact which leads the authorities to believe that the criminals travelled to their second target at around 200km an hour.
By the time officers arrived at the location, the thieves were back in the car and a high-speed chase up the A2 motorway ensued, with Grândola and Almodôvar BT officers called for backup. Despite the high-speed police pursuit, the criminals escaped. The following day officers revealed that the Honda Civic had been found in Setúbal, which has led them to believe that the perpetrators live in that area.
Sargent Guerório, from Albufeira GNR, explained to The Resident: “March was an average month for us. In terms of thefts from cars, these happen mainly in beachfront areas. On the positive side, reports of stolen cars are rare and there is very little violent crime in the town. Most criminals operating in Albufeira are drug addicts and most of the crimes they commit are quickly solved.”