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Spain arrests 'fake police' after tourist robberies

Spanish authorities said they had detained members of a criminal gang accused of preying on tourists in Madrid by posing as police officers. Imposters asked to see documents and wallets - then scarpered with valuables.

Police in the Spanish capital on Monday said they had arrested eight suspected members of a gang that was involved in a series of robberies in recent months.

The group targeted newly-arrived tourists leaving hotels and airports, and used fake insignias on vehicles to make them look like police cars.

As well as brandishing fake police badges, the culprits wore hats with the word "Espana" as part of their disguise.

They feigned searches of cars before making off with high value items, including expensive watches, smartphones and jewelry that was found in police searches of three suburban homes. Cash was also stolen - both in euros and foreign currency.

Asked for wallets

In some cases they demanded to see wallets for evidence of drugs or fake bank notes, before stealing cash and making a quick getaway.

The arrests were made in an operation carried out by both Spain's National Police and the country's Civil Guard, following an investigation into complaints. Footage of one raid was published on You Tube.

Police said all of the alleged suspects arrested were of Pakistani or Iranian nationality, and lived an itinerant lifestyle with no record of work in Spain.

Officials said at least 21 crimes had been documented, although it is believed the group may have committed more. 

rc/se (EFE, dpa, AFP)