Gregorio Rodríguez García, known as ‘El Goyito’, is short, round-faced and phlegmatic. But that is until he gets behind the wheel of any vehicle. Then he turns into a madman. He learned to drive when he was only 11 and never looked back. Since turning 18, he has been arrested 16 times for ram-raiding – the practice of crashing a car through a store window to steal the goods inside.
García was born in a shanty house in San Cristóbal, in the Madrid inner-city neighborhood of Vallecas – on the other side of the train tracks. When he was only two, his parents María del Carmen and José Luis were evicted from their shack and moved to social housing in the same area. These are humble homes with fantastic views of the lush Navamures park, famous for its fountains.
El Goyito spent much of his childhood there with other boys from the neighborhood, troublesome boys who recall drinking in the street with him. “He began to have too much fun,” says one of them. “One night, he stole a bus and drove it around the neighborhood. Another day he stole a butane truck and did the same. He would go to La Moraleja and steal from the rich, which I think is fine,” he added.
He doesn’t fear anything. If he has to run over someone, he will
El Goyito stole from pharmacies and bars (one of which he robbed three times in 10 days). He was arrested multiple times before turning 18, but there are no longer any records of that. His victims still remember, though. Like Antonio García, who has managed a Telepizza store in Santa Eugenia for 15 years. “He stole up to seven motorcycles from us, and he would assault and rob the delivery people repeatedly,” says the manager. “He would wait for them as they returned from their customer’s doors. First he would first break the motorcycle chain, twisting it around a lamp post or something else until it broke. Then he would wait for the delivery boys and steal their tips.”
He added: “One time he got his hand caught in the rain jacket of a delivery person who managed to get on his bike and then dragged him for 50 meters. He later came by the store demanding we tell him who it had been so he could beat him up.”
The police sent El Goyito to juvenile detention centers in Murcia and Córdoba, but he continually escaped. The first time he was detained as an adult was on November 9, 2011. Gregorio was charged with unlawful association, attacking an authority figure, crimes against traffic safety and violent theft. Fifteen days later, he was spotted and then chased by the police as he escaped onto the M-30 highway. “He put many lives at risk including his own,” says an officer who was present that day.
I steal, yes, so I can have clothes, food, things
Gregorio Rodríguez García
The officer explained that unlike other ram raiders, Gregorio does not care about the type of car he uses: “There are specialists in ram raiding who are only interested in one type of vehicle. To him it’s all the same. He doesn’t fear anything. If he has to run over someone, he will.”
El Goyito has used all types of cars to commit crimes across the city. In 2012, he told a journalist from the television program Equipo de Investigación, “I steal, yes, so I can have clothes, food, things.”
In 2013, he moved into an empty house in Seseña, Toledo with one of his partners in crime, Adán S. P., also known as Fernando Alonso. They were detained by the police here multiple times. The night before one arrest, they had robbed a tobacconist in Chamberí, a pizza establishment in San Blas and a perfume shop in the district of Salamanca.
At some point between 2013 and this year, El Goyito moved to the northern part of the city. He began living in a property development near the Plenilunio shopping mall, where an apartment costs €140,000. Around 250 families live in the various residential blocks, and the concierge insists that he does not know El Goyito: “Too many neighbors,” he says.
The police searched the house after his last arrest on May 24. He had stolen three cars from a dealership with his associates. They had broken down the door with one of them, and stolen another two. Two days later, the police arrested him and five others, including his brother, for ram-raiding six banks in Madrid and Alcalá de Henares. “It is the first time that we know of that they have stolen from banks,” said the police.
A judge ordered El Goyito to report to the Soto del Real prison for a total of six days. He has been free since May 30. Who knows what he is planning next.
English version by Andres Cayuela.