In the early hours of Sunday morning, in the tourist resort of Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, there was, allegedly, a restaurant robbed three times over a 7 hour period, by what seems to have been the same group of people, in the south-western Gran Canaria municipality of Mogán. This is a crime that should never have occurred, particularly at so well established and loved a restaurant, during some of the hardest times most have ever seen on the island.  Some Mogán business owners have over recent weeks been asking for greater police numbers and security measures, based on often vocal opposition, and feelings of insecurity, regarding migrants being temporarily accommodated in the area. The 3-times-repeated theft occurred during the hours of COVID-19 curfew, and as such many questions are being asked about who the culprits were and how they were able to roam the streets of this empty tourist town, carrying stolen booze, seemingly undetected.

Editors Comment:

Some clearly right-wing online publications have been quick to add to their near-constant anti-migrant rhetoric, by repeating claims to know, without question, the nationalities, origins and immigration status of the perpetrators who were caught on a security camera, based on the claims of the restaurant owner. While there is every possibility that these assumptions might indeed be correct, in this instance, until the police have finished their investigation of the restaurant robbed, as a crime scene, and then brought charges, there simply is no real way to judge exactly who these individuals were, nor if they can be accurately connected to the ongoing immigration controversies which have caused so many regrettable headlines and outbursts in recent months.  Trial by social media is simply not a suitable method for discovering the unvarnished truths of so sensitive an issue.

As difficult as this may be for some to accept, there can surely be nothing constructive in trying to create fear around the serious issue of migration, on the basis of what may well be a few bad actors and potential criminals in our midst.

Either you believe in law and order, or you don’t.  Crime, like discrimination, has no nationality and few real friends.


Spanish language daily La Provinica report that at 11.30 p.m. on Saturday night, and then at 2.30 a.m. and, later, again at 6.30 a.m on Sunday morning, up to three times, what appears to be the same group of three masked people, possibly non-Spanish, broke into the Restaurant El Cenador Grill in Puerto Rico, which has been closed for many months due to the pandemic. Images were recorded by the surveillance cameras at the business, located in the CC Olas commercial centre, then published after being released by the business owner, who also himself made a video of the aftermath, showing a broken window and some empty shelves.

The alleged theft took place within curfew hours, which means that those involved were able to wander around the area without being questioned about why they were out and breaking level 2 regulations in force at the time.

Footprints and traces of blood

The thieves apparently forced a window, at the back of the premises, to access the interior of the establishment, somehow preventing an alarm from going off, having climbed some bars to get in. They are reported to have grabbed merchandise, in particular various higher-value drinks, among other items, as well as allegedly causing damage in the process of committing the thefts.

The surveillance cameras recorded a group, three people in principle, with what are described as characteristic features seeming to suggest they were either foreign born or descended from non-Spanish origins, and that could well help facilitate their identification, despite the fact they were wearing masks.  The business owner suspects them to be of Maghrebi, north African, origin.  In addition, these perpetrators seem to have not been very skilled at what they were doing, nor careful, leaving clear evidence on a window and on the security camera itself, leaving footprints behind, and even traces of blood, presumably one having cut themselves when accessing the establishment.

The Guardia Civil has taken over the investigation, analysing the evidence allegedly left behind by these thieves.

The restaurant itself has been in operation for 22 years and there are now legitimate concerns among local tourism businesses that this type of criminality could be repeated, simply on the basis of their having been able to enter this well known restaurant three times in just seven hours, all while a curfew is supposed to be in force.  The bottles of booze were then reportedly found empty at a nearby sports court.

The only other similar instance, of another tourism establishment having suffered thefts of stock, is alleged to have occurred last week, while the premises was open. This time thought to have been committed by a group of minors having surprised the business owner and then grabbing some bottles before running off.

Some entrepreneurs, by no means a majority, from Puerto Rico have expressed their concern recently about what they have termed as insecurity being detected within the resort town, which the mayor of Mogán has used as justification to publicly call for 30% more Guardia Civil agents to be deployed. However, despite having no competence nor influence in such decisions, as a local administration the town hall is well within its rights to make such formal requests, through the proper channels. There has been no specific public response from the Guardia Civil main command post in that regard. However Policia Local patrols have been increased and supported with the assistance of the Policia Canaria, regional security forces, who came forward last week to increase police visibility.

The mayor’s demands, released to the press and through the town hall’s website, include “the activation and deployment of Reserve and Security Group number 8 of the Guardia Civil (GRS No.8) in the municipality as a reinforcement in the face of incidents and altercations that have been happening in recent weeks in some apartment complexes and hotels that house migrants.”

This “Reserve and Security Group” has been deployed on other occasions, such as during the municipality’s main Fiestas del Carmen, when local crime peaks occur in certain areas of the archipelago, and during the visit to the Arguineguín Harbour by the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, back on November 6. Despite the presumptions of the local administration, it can be well assumed that the commanders of the Guardia Civil are not only professionals who know their jobs well, but that they have also maintained close monitoring of this particular situation and will continue to do so, being more than capable of deciding the appropriate levels of deployment so as to safeguard general security and maintain the effective execution of their duties.

There will be more instances of this sort, but it is the job of the security forces, the police and the judicial system to ensure that they are dealt with adequately under the law.  Citizens are actively encouraged to report any criminality, emergency or verifiable security concerns, particularly if they have evidence to offer.

Editor’s thoughts:

If it is, in the end, discovered that a small group of migrants, currently accommodated locally and awaiting proper processing, were involved, then we can be sure that not only are the individuals on file, being monitored and easily identifiable to police, but they will have earned themselves an express transfer out of Spain or into prison, or both. The presumption of innocence and the need to provide evidence in a court of law are still a thing, here in Spain, yet trial by social media seems to be more acceptable to a small but ever more vocal group of anti-immigrant campaigners, happier to “name and shame” businesses they think of as helping the migrants, than they are to look at how deeply they undermine the rule of law or the security of this tourist destination, already damaged by a near total lack of visitors, due to pandemic restrictions beyond their control.

Shame and hatred are not a good look in a place usually dedicated to hospitality, strong community and good service. However, thankfully, there still are professional, even handed and even responsible journalists on the island who fervently resist the urge to feed negative rhetoric, and instead try to provide more accurate, fair accounts that are not so harmful to the public discourse, preferring instead to reserve final judgement… one such example in such reporting is the careful use of the word “alleged”, which is a requirement under the law for those reporting on, as of yet, unproven crimes committed, so as not to prejudice any future court cases.  News journalists try to avoid deciding the outcomes of criminal justice, until such as time as they are officially decided by the people competent to do so.

The failure to observe norms like this is not just sloppy, but irresponsible and show a complete lack of respect for Spain’s judicial system and its ability to convict those proven to have perpetrated criminal acts in our civil society.

No one is above the law, nor should they be, and justice must be blind, if it is to remain effective. Regardless of your beliefs or your assumptions.

Either we believe in protecting our ideals and a society based on the rule of law, or we allow anyone who wants to to make summary judgements, and punishments, without the need to ever provide real evidence. That would likely be a very different, fear-driven place than where we are today.  The world is a difficult place, let’s help our justice system to do its job, not create unnecessary fear by demonising whole groups of “others”. If you know anything about history, you will know why we have the laws and the justice systems we do, and why that is worth defending.  Let’s uphold our laws, through the proper channels, rather than accept the vilification of large groups of strangers based on fear. Real strength deals with reality, it does not succumb to baseless terror, no matter how often the threats are repeated. 

The burden of proof must still be required to convict anyone of wrong doing.  Evidence is key.  The crimes of an individual must not be used against others who abide by the law.  The quality of mercy, to paraphrase, must not be strained, but fall, as the gentle rain from heaven.