Murcia’s Civil Guard, in conjunction with the private security company operating at La Manga Club has launched operation ‘Boleros’, an investigation that has culminated with the breaking up of a criminal group, four members of which have been arrested for theft and property damage.

Their crime was to recover a thousand golf balls that had been lost over many years at the bottom of the golf course’s artificial lakes, causing, according to the course operator, 44,000 euros in economic damage to their company, presumably relating to the losses that they have incurred with the sale of replacement balls.

The investigation began after the Civil Guard was alerted by the private security company, as to the presence of a group of people who, during the early mornings, roamed the outskirts of the Golf courses.

Agents, presumably with little better to do in La Manga, subsequently carried out a surveillance operation for two days which resulted in the arrest of four men, one of them a minor, who were traveling aboard a van which was ladened with 13 bags full of golf balls.

In the vehicle, the Guardia also found two handmade metal cages that were used to extract the balls from the bottom of the artificial lakes, where they would have remained, having been lost by golfers over many years.

All those arrested were former residents of Malaga who had moved into the area specifically to work the golf courses in the Region of Murcia. The police say that some of them had backgrounds for similar crimes.

Agents say that this particular criminal activity is unusual in the Region but very common in other provinces, such as in Malaga, the place of origin of those arrested.

In order to recover the balls, many of which are probably mine, they drag the metal cages along the bottom of the artificial lakes which causes damage to their waterproof covers. They then move the recovered golf balls to other provinces where they sell them at prices that are much lower than market prices.

In many countries across Europe such criminals are called ‘entrepaneurs’, however considering the quality of the balls shown in the Guardia photograph I doubt that there would have been too many golfers queuing up to buy them. 

I would be absolutely delighted though if, when the case comes to trial, the Cartagena courts simply tell the La Manga golf authorities to ‘get a life’ and stop wasting police time.  I wonder how many of us who play the sport on a regular basis haven’t been guilty of trawling for lost balls ourselves!