Civil Guard Customs Officers arrested a woman carrying 78 smartphones as she attempted to board a ferry to Barcelona.

The woman, a Bulgarian national, was carrying the stolen booty in her suitcase. The police valuation of 70,000€ puts the haul at being in large part the latest high value handsets. 

Theft of mobile devices is one of Ibiza’s most common crimes. It is known that a large proportion of the stolen phones leave the island as each year the police and Guardia Civil will intercept batches of stolen goods headed for foreign lands.

Arrested Leaving Ibiza with 78 Stolen Smartphones
Arrested Leaving Ibiza with 78 Stolen Smartphones

Though it may be a common theft, the Police do not keep statistics relating to the theft of mobile phones as a specific item, only as part of the overall theft category which has actually fallen over recent years.

Whatever that number may be, it is likely to be only a tiny fraction of the overall number of phones stolen that will end up in street markets throughout Eastern Europe and even into Africa and Asia. 

However the phone’s owner may find that the theft of the handset is only the start of their ordeal, and that its value will be nothing compared to what they stand to lose if the handset falls into the possession of criminals less concerned with the hardware than the data it contains. 

As recently reported in the Guardian in a report of the Nigerian stolen phone market, there is a thriving trade in phone data that can be used to exploit security and confidential information to access bank accounts, saved payment details, and even content that can be used for blackmail. 

Stolen phones will find their way to street markets in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia
Stolen phones will find their way to street markets in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia

Ibiza’s summer season is the perfect place for gangs to operate. They come from all parts – gangs have been caught from Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Morocco and others – but whatever their nationality they generally use the same distraction techniques. Some of the gang will engage to distract the attention of the victim, while others use the distraction to make the theft. 

Ibiza Police state that the majority of the thieves congregate around leisure areas – discos and bars etc – during the night, when holidaymakers are particularly vulnerable. In 2018 the Police caught one gang that had stolen 30 high end mobile phones in just 3 days.   

Police are now trying to identify the owners of the 78 phones.