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27 thieves arrested for robbing luxury watches from tourists in Barcelona
Last Updated: 2017-06-13 00:00 | Xinhua
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Twenty-seven thieves were arrested by police on Monday for stealing and robbing luxury watches from tourists in the city of Barcelona, Spain.

Mossos d'Esquadra, or the police force of Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, on Monday confirmed the arrest of the 27 thieves of French and Belgian nationals, who were based in either London or Paris.

The thieves would travel to Barcelona to commit their crimes and usually operate in four or five groups, according to the police.

The total value of the goods they stole or robbed, including watches worth between 500 and up to 120,000 euros, was estimated at over 310,000 euros (347,240 U.S. dollars). These watches would then be sold on the black market in either the Middle East countries or in countries of the north of the Magreb.

The police confirmed that 14 of the thieves have been sent to prison to await trial, the remaining 13 have been released on charges.

The police explained that the thieves were usually able to steal watches without being detected, but if they were discovered, they would not hesitate to use violence in order to escape.

Tourists, who were either staying in luxury hotels or visiting bars, restaurants and nightclubs, were the main targets. The thieves also looked for victims outside high-end establishments or jewelry stores in a bid to steal goods which were just purchased.

The police operation was carried out by the Repeat Offenders' Department of the Mossos d'Esquadra. Related investigation started in October 2016 after police detected a rise in the theft of luxury items, especially in the Old Town and Eixample districts of Barcelona.

These arrests are part of the first phase of an operation against this kind of thieves and a second phase is underway.

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