Palma.—National and Local Police in Palma have detected activity by a gang which is specialising in searching out properties which have been repossessed by banks, especially in the suburb of Son Gotleu in Palma. Members of the gang then occupy the premises.

The gang members are reportedly Spanish gypsies. In the majority of cases, the means of entering the property is to force entry and once inside, in exchange for money they leave the premises to be occupied by other people. Otherwise, it might be the gypsies themselves and their families who become the “squatters”.

During their investigations, the police have arrested 25 year.-old Manuel M.M. and 32 year-old Tamara A.A. both of whom are suspected of illegally taking over properties.

The police said that the method the gang used to establish which properties they could use for their illegal activities consisted of watching out for when an eviction took place in Son Gotleu especially in areas where there was conflict between immigrant groups, or between residents and police.

As soon as they were aware that people had been evacuated because they weren't able to keep up mortgage or rent payments, members of the gang forced their way into the property, later to “rent” it out to those in need of a roof over their head, or to move in as the “new residents.” Police have established that there is some connection between a gypsy clan living in Son Gotleu and former residents of the notorious Son Banya suburb in east Palma, now eliminated by the City Council. “We are used to extreme cases of law breaking in Son Gotleu,” said a spokesman for the investigation, “but this most recent activity of moving into repossessed property has a higher profile.”