Spanish police have busted a four-member gang that specialized in breaking into bars through narrow holes through which its leader, a contortionist, squeezed himself into targeted premises after having consulted a horoscope to check for the most auspicious day on which to carry out each heist, a force spokesman said Monday.
The gang was led by a 55-year-old Romanian whose cohorts were two Spanish nationals, aged 26 and 46, and a 24-year Venezuelan woman.
"A band of robbers who resorted to holes in the wall and contortionist skills has been arrested," the Catalan regional Mossos d'Esquadra police said in a press conference broadcast on the force's Twitter account. "The band leader consulted the horoscope before committing the actions."
Horoscopes rely on astrology, a study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects to divine information about human and terrestrial affairs.
Despite such precautions, the leader's hideout in the middle of a forest near Sentmenat, a small town in Barcelona province, was raided by Mossos d'Esquadra leading to the thieves being linked to more than 20 robberies, 15 of them in Barcelona, the region's capital.
The police investigation began on Oct. 14, following a robbery in the Barcelona neighborhood of Nou Barris which the robbers accessed by boring a hole from inside a block of apartments next door to the establishment's entrance.
One of the vehicles used by the gang was identified by police, which led to identifying its owner who had a criminal record including a string of violent robberies in Valencia, assisted by an accomplice.
Police established the band chose its targets after confirming the viability of boring a hole through a neighboring building without being detected by the neighbors while monitoring the bar's owners and staff comings and goings prior to the break-in.
Before each robbery, the leader would check the horoscope for the most suitable day to proceed, the spokesman said.
Once chosen, they would travel to the targeted bar in two SUV's.
Their plan consisted in leaving one band member and a dog looking after the vehicles while another member kept an eye on the next-door neighbor's staircase, ready to alert of any movements while the leader chiseled a small hole in the wall, which he then used to wiggle inside the premises.
The leader had been identified by police back in 2010 as a contortionist street performer, a talent he later adapted to crawl inside small-bore holes.
In one case, the gang drilled a hole inside the base of an elevator shaft as unaware neighbors used the lift, thus seriously endangering gang members.
The leader was a solitary person who lived in a hut in the middle of Sentmenat forest, where the Mossos found him, along with a diary detailing every prior preparation, notes, diagrams and work routines concerning the targetted bars.
Catalonia's police later searched another flat in Castellar del Vallès where they arrested another alleged gang leader.
Two gang members including the leader have been remanded in custody after appearing in court while the other two individuals have been released pending a future court hearing.