By Bejay Browne
FOLLOWING a spate of muggings in Paphos, police say they are confident that all of the suspects have been arrested and no more such incidents will take place.
Most of the recent reported victims were tourists holidaying in the resort, and tourism officials will be joining police in breathing a sigh of relief as the muggings have done nothing to help promote the town’s image as a safe place to visit.
“This phenomenon is something recent in Paphos although it does sometimes take place in other towns in Cyprus,” a police spokesman said.
According to police, cases of muggings have been rare in the seaside town in recent years and incidents in the past have been isolated. But a spate of these crimes in recent weeks have left both police and locals concerned.
“Our fears have now been allayed following the arrests,” the spokesman said adding that “different teams of perpetrators were arrested who we believe are responsible for the recent cases in Paphos.”
Last week Paphos police arrested four Cypriot men in connection with a number of tourist muggings in the area. Police say one of the suspects, a 26 year old, confessed to committing 20 separate muggings, mainly of tourists.
Police originally arrested two men after a holidaymaker reported she had been mugged by two men while walking home.
The victim gave police a description of the car the men used to flea after snatching her bag. The unemployed suspects are Paphos residents and following their arrest, they admitted stealing the tourist’s bag. Two other men were later arrested in connection with the muggings.
In addition, three Romanian men were remanded in custody for eight days on Thursday in connection with another series of muggings in Paphos.
One incident involved a British couple on holiday the seaside town. They reported an attack by three assailants who snatched the woman’s bag whist they were out walking.
Two Ukranian women reported a similar incident on the same night. They say they were attacked by two young men who stole one women’s bag.
Police later stopped a vehicle driven by a Limassol-based Romanian. Four mobile phones and two pairs of sunglasses were found inside the vehicle. The driver couldn’t give a satisfactory explanation as to where he found the items and was arrested. During his interview he confessed to the crimes and also gave police the names of two associates, also Romanians who live in Limassol.
His two alleged accomplices were also arrested. The trio was remanded for eight days by Paphos district court.
Elderly Paphos resident Evie Newman, 78, said: “I am very relieved the police have caught the people responsible. I was concerned about my two granddaughters coming to visit this summer as they often go out at night. You don’t expect this kind of thing in Paphos which is a usually a relatively safe place to live and come on holiday.”
A police spokesman added: “We didn’t really have incidents such as these before in Paphos, it’s only happened lately. As we haven’t received any more complaints since these recent arrests, we believe we have all of the perpetrators in custody.”
Police admit that more foot patrols are needed in some areas of Paphos which are popular with visitors, such as Kato Paphos, the Tomb of the Kings road and Ayiou Antonios – bar Street – which is the town’s main nightlife street.
According to police, foot patrols are currently only patrolling bar street at the weekends.