Friday, January 04, 2008

Muggers of tipsy tourists arrested in Poland

Police in the historic Polish city of Krakow have arrested a gang of muggers who targeted tipsy foreign tourists for late night attacks in the popular weekend destination, authorities said.

“Typically one of the muggers would approach a drunk tourist going to their hotel late at night and ask for the time,” Krakow regional press officer Dariusz Nowak told AFP. “If it turned out to be a foreigner, gang members would follow him and then attack using tear gas.”

The muggers stole cash and valuables but made sure their victims retained their identity documents in the hope that they would not report the attacks to police, Nowak said.

“Some of the victims were drunk to the point they weren’t entirely certain whether they’d been mugged,” he said.

Around 20 attacks were reported to police over the last three months. The muggers were finally caught after special plain-clothes officers were stationed on Krakow’s scenic mediaeval central market square near which most muggings took place.
Officers managed to catch two muggers red-handed during an attack on a 62-year-old US citizen. A third was detained later.

The majority of victims were British. Budget flights from Britain have made Krakow in southern Poland a popular spot for short breaks, especially for groups of young men on stag nights.

The muggers, aged 31 to 34, face up to 12 years behind bars for assault using tear gas.