AN ELUSIVE thief who went on a systemic campaign of stealing from Mercadona supermarket shoppers in Alicante province has been arrested by the Guardia Civil.
The 42-year-old man from Elda had a catalogue of 150 similar offences to his name leading to a court order which decreed he should stay 500 metres away from Mercadona stores.
He flouted the order during the summer as he went to Mercadona outlets in Almoradi, Aspe, Callosa de Segura, Castalla, and Petrer to rob shoppers who were not concentrating on keeping their personal valuables safe.
The thief struck in August when he took a high-end mobile phone from a customer in Novelda.
The Guardia based in the town then pulled together reports of identical incidents from other Mercadona supermarkets in Alicante province.
Looking at all the security camera footage from the stores, they identified the thief as the same man who was well known to authorities due to his past criminal history.
It was also discovered that four different courts in Alicante province wanted him and that he was hard to locate.
After several days of searching, he was found in Elda and charged with 10 counts of theft; 10 counts of not observing previous bail conditions; and two counts of fraud for using bank cards taken from two victims.
Despite his criminal record, a Novelda court released him pending trial.
It was previously reported by the Olive Press in August 2022 that he was arrested by the Guardia in Elda for stealing €4,000 of items from 13 Mercadona stores and it was revealed that two legal indictments including 15 arrest warrants had been issued against him since 2020.
Various courts in the Albacete, Alicante, Barcelona, Murcia, and Valencia areas wanted to bring the man to justice- but with no success
His two-month 2022 summer sweep took in stores in Alicante, Almoradi, Aspe, Elche, Mutxamel, Petrer, and San Vicente del Raspeig and customers were not his prime target on that occasion.
He operated during busy periods in an attempt to go unnoticed and would steal store products worth €350 during each visit.
He left without paying and would wheel his trolley out to the Mercadona car park where he would load up his vehicle before returning inside for a further fill-up.
The thief also topped up his earnings by stealing purses from unsuspecting customers walking around stores, which this year has been his main priority.