A man who pretended to be a telecommunications operator technician was arrested on Monday, in the municipality of Cascais, district of Lisbon, for being suspected of 59 crimes, including 17 of aggravated theft, the PSP announced this Thursday.
According to the police, the ongoing common investigation verifies that “the suspect was solely and exclusively dedicated to the practice of theft in elderly homes throughout the Lisbon Metropolitan Area”.
The 34-year-old man was arrested in flagrante delicto, on Monday, at 12:00 pm, at the União de Freguesias Carcavelos Parede, in Cascais, as part of a police investigation, in which a court order had already been issued. “I suspect the practice of 17 crimes of aggravated theft, 12 crimes of theft, 13 crimes of computer fraud, one crime of coercion and 16 crimes of driving without a legal license”, informed a Lisbon Metropolitan Command of the Public Security Police (PSP) .
The detainee was already present at the 1st judicial interrogation and was ordered by the Criminal Investigation Judge to be the most severe coercion measure of preventive detention, the police indicated.
Most victims were over 80 years old. “I stole jewelry, cash and bank cards”
In a statement, a PSP reported that the latest victim of the “false employee of telecommunications operators” was a 93-year-old elderly woman, who “she was visited by the defendant when she was already being monitored by the police and, after leaving the place, it was found that, from the interior of the residence, she had taken a safe, money and a debit card”.
After this theft, the police proceeded to arrest the suspect, who was actually in possession of the objects belonging to the elderly woman.
A police investigation was triggered following various accusations and criminal information collected, with a PSP referenced “an individual who pretends to be a telecommunications operator’s technician (‘MEO’, ‘NOS’ and ‘VODAFONE’), in order to be able to enter the homes of elderly people”.
Most of the victims were over 80 years old and the “false employee”, a pretext for a possible technical intervention, entered the houses, from where “he stole jewelry, money and bank cards”, the PSP said.
“In order to carry out the crimes, the victims were previously contacted by telephone by the suspect, who identified himself as an employee of a telecommunications operator, to communicate the existence of an anomaly in the network that covered the area of his residence and the need to send a technician to the site to resolve the malfunction, “the police needed to provide that the “false employee” appeared at the door of the people contacted, a few minutes after the phone call, wearing carrier vests, in order to try to match the service technician of an operator ” , managing to enter the residences.
In addition to stealing valuable items, the suspect took advantage of this “modus operandi” to deceive as vulnerable, “essentially due to their advanced age and lack of judgment to assess their real intentions”, into providing them with the access codes to the bank cards that he seized and with which he raised money and made personal purchases, “in the order of tens of thousands of euros”, revealed a PSP.
“The suspect deposited approximately 170,000 euros in cash in his bank accounts, which seems to correspond to the profit of the crimes perpetrated”
PSP advises the older population not to open the door to strangers
According to the PSP’s Lisbon Metropolitan Command, during the criminal activity, “the suspect deposited approximately 170,000 euros in cash in his bank accounts, which seems to correspond to the profit of the crimes perpetrated”.
In the context of the arrest, the police complied with four home and non-household search warrants, which resulted in the “seizure of solid elements proving the criminal activity, namely: a passenger car; three mobile phones; a debit card; a gray vest with pockets; a pair of prescription glasses; an iron safe; an apprenticeship license to obtain a driving licence; seven televisions; various items in gold; various perfumes from different brands; sunglasses of various reputable brands; home appliances; 295 euros in cash; several watches from various reputable brands; various pieces of clothing and pants; various children’s articles; and several subscription contracts of the operators ‘Meo’, ‘Vodafone’ and ‘Nos'”.
In order to hypothesize crime, the PSP advises the elderly population not to open the door to strangers and, in case they do, contact a family member or neighbor to be present, also recommending that, in case of suspicion of any crime, contact the security board.
In addition, the police examined that “any citizen residing in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area who sees a visit of this kind must confirm their belongings in order to verify that they have been the target of theft and, if confirmed, must report the crime to the authorities” .