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Peruvian gang steals €3,500 after abducting backpacker

AN Irish backpacker was robbed at gunpoint during a nightmare three-hour ordeal in Peru.

John Gerard Cruise was forced into a car boot by two armed thieves who then drove him to a shack where he was held captive. The men took his bank card and forced him to reveal his PIN -- then stole €1,500 from cashpoints using his card.

They also took his personal belongings and around €2,000 he was carrying in cash.

Mr Cruise was then dumped at the side of the road without a penny. However, he managed to persuade his captors to leave his passport and SIM card for his mobile phone.

Mr Cruise was attacked on the morning of New Year's Eve as he travelled in a taxi from the city of Trujillo, in north west Peru, to a nearby beach at Huanchaco.

He had arrived in Trujillo shortly beforehand by bus and had been planning on doing volunteer work in the city.

Police believe the taxi driver was part of the gang. He pulled over as he drove over a bridge, and the two armed then ordered Mr Cruise into the boot.

A police source said: "They kept him captive for hours while they stole the money from his bank account, then they left him by the side of the road. We are trying to locate the taxi driver as we believe he might have been part of the gang."

After his release Mr Cruise called Ireland's Honorary Consul in Lima, Michael Russell, asking for assistance.

He was able to make contact with his parents in Ireland to assure them he is okay.

A friend said yesterday: "He was very badly shaken up but he did the right thing in co-operating with the robbers.

"They held him for three hours in a shack while they stole the money from cashpoints.

"He was considering going home because of the ordeal but after thinking about if for a day or two he has decided to stay in Peru and do his volunteering."

Irish Independent