An ex-police officer was part of a gang of five violent criminals who preyed on old people living alone in isolated areas in the region of Olhão, as well as carrying out break-ins in the town.
The gang was arrested last week following a six-month investigation by police.
Acting on information, the police swooped on three men, breaking into a house in Parragil in the Loulé district.
After detaining the robbers, about 30 police officers carried out searches of five apartments and garages in the Bairro dos Índios in Olhão and captured the two other members of the gang.
They found equipment used in robberies as well as four light vehicles, gold items and money. During the search in Bairro dos Índios, police also recovered various valuable exotic birds, including two parrots.The gang stole from breeders and houses in the region to sell to pet shops in Lisbon and Porto, a crime which nettedseveral thousand euros a month.
Some of the birds can be identified by micro-chips, which the Portuguese Bird Study Society (SEPNA) says will facilitate returning them to their rightful owners.
The gang of five, comprising individuals between 30 and 64, was known as the “Gang of Marte”, named after a café of the same name in the region where they met regularly to plan their crimes.
The retired police officer used his knowledge of working with the PSP to tip off the rest of the gang on possible police movementswhen they carried out their assaults.
The five detainees appeared in court last Wednesday to answer numerous charges of robbery and violence.