Worten and Continente shop front

“Hypermarket gang” arrested for thefts between Lisbon and Algarve

Hypermarket gang responsible for over 30 heists since January 2022

Five men responsible for dozens of thefts in the Greater Lisbon, Alentejo and Algarve areas have been arrested by PSP police in Beja.

Having become known as the “Hypermarket Gang,” the quintet from Odivelas (near Lisbon) are believed to be behind over 30 heists since January 2022.

According to Jornal de Notícias, the group had a “very unique modus operandi” as they would use a portable device to “neutralise” the bar codes of the items they intended to steal.

Three members would then distract the security guards by faking a fight between each other so that the other two could leave unnoticed with the stolen items, which included everything from drinks to electronic appliances.

The five men were finally caught by PSP police at around 4pm on Saturday, February 11 inside the Continente Modelo supermarket at Retail Parque de Beja as they attempted to leave with €4,000-worth of beverages in two shopping carts without passing through the cash registers or setting off any alarms. Only one of the men tried to resist, JN adds.

The gang was apparently foiled by a theft carried out the day before at a Worten store located inside a Continente hypermarket on the other side of town near the IP2 road, from which they stole a variety of electronical equipment and mobile phones.

After seeing the CCTV footage, the local PSP Criminal Investigation team (EIC) contacted other PSP district commands and “realised they were in the presence of a very dangerous and organised group.”

A number of undercover PSP police agents were dispatched to Retail Parque the following day and intercepted the men as they tried to complete yet another hypermarket heist.

Apart from the stolen beverages, police also seized a car which they believe was stolen, several fake license plates which the gang would use on the car and change after every heist and the items which had been stolen the day before.

The five men – three Portuguese and two Brazilian aged between 22 and 35, and some of whom have already spent time in jail – were due to appear before a judge.

By Michael Bruxo

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