Muggers with pepper spray target ADE attendees; police looking for victims

Martin Garrix (Photo: Panama89/Wikimedia Commons)Martin Garrix (Photo: Panama89/Wikimedia Commons)

A group of pickpockets or muggers set off multiple cans of pepper spray at the Martin Garrix performance in the Amsterdam Dance Event during the early hours of Saturday morning. They used the burning eyes and trouble breathing as a distraction to rob party goers of their possessions, the Amsterdam police said in a statement. The police call on victims to come forward.

The pepper spray incident happened in the RAI. According to the police, around 130 people went to the first aid posts with burning eyes and breathing problems. No one was seriously injured. How many people were robbed, is not clear. The police are therefore calling on victims to come forward.

By Sunday afternoon, no charges had been pressed yet, a police spokesperson said to Het Parool. Because no charges were pressed and no reports filed, the police cannot yet launch an investigation.

Pepper spray as a distraction is an increasingly popular method among pickpockets, Dina Siegel, criminologist at Utrecht University, said to the Volkskrant. She studies mobile bandits - gangs moving from country to country to steal wallets, purses and cellphones. "On the street they do it with small talks or hugs, but pepper spray works well at parties."

According to Siegel, these actions are carefully coordinated and planned meticulously, using the European event calendar to prepare their travel schedule. "These are not a few individuals out to steal, it is organized crime", she said to the newspaper.