Thomas Cook were warned about gangs of child snatchers operating at the Anastasia Beach Complex THREE YEARS ago but did nothing, shocked British holidaymakers have claimed.
Gary Elton, 33, stayed at the scandal-hit resort in Cyprus in July 2012 with his wife Nicola, 33, and their two children Ella, five, and ten-week-old Jayden.
The family, who were with a group of eight adults and five youngsters, were terrified when a group of men starting taking pictures of children at the hotel.
The gang, who were described as Middle Eastern, were also seen playing with kids in the swimming pool by tipping them off inflatable lilos and ripping off their sun hats.
Shockingly, one of the men had even been accused of sexually assaulting two teenage girls in the lifts of the hotel.
The family claim horrified holidaymakers followed one of the men, who was staying at the complex as a guest, but say he disappeared.
They complained to the hotel manager and the rep who informed them the group had left the resort so nothing could be done.
Gary and his friends then wrote a letter to Thomas Cook when they arrived home from their two-week break warning them about the behaviour they had witnessed.
But they were stunned when the holiday company replied, and simply apologised that “such a thoughtless person affected your time around the pool”.
Today (Tue), road worker Gary, from Clay Cross, Derbys., said he believes Thomas Cook should have learned from the incident to prevent recent child abduction attempts.
He said: “It is unbelievable that they just swept this under the carpet.
“On our second day of the holiday the rep informed us there had been a report of a sexual assault in the lift but we were assured it had been dealt with.
“Then a couple of days later we noticed a man that seemed to be messing around with children and around the pool.
“He would be going around tipping off their sun hats or rolling children off inflatable lilos. There was a group of men he was with and they looked Iraqi or Middle Eastern.
“Later that day he had a camera and was walking around the pool videoing and taking pictures of children, he didn’t seem to be trying to hide it.
“One of the other parents tried to follow him after someone shouted that he was the person who was accused of the lift incident but he quickly left the hotel.
“We had seven young children with us including our baby son so we complained to the manager like others had done.
“But we were told that staff had looked at the man’s camera and seen no images of children on it and the manager said the men had left the hotel the next day so they thought it was all resolved.
“We were even more disgusted when we told our holiday rep about it and all he said was ‘well you are abroad, what do you expect’.
“It is just worrying that they clearly ignored this and carried on as normal.
“They should have looked at their security measures then and they might have stopped what happened last week.
“For all we know it could have been the same gang or a similar group. If they know they can get away with taking pictures so easily it isn’t surprising they might try abduction as well.”
In their letter to Thomas Cook, the group mentioned the pool incident and said the man was “videoing and taking photos of children in and around the pool area without permission”.
But in the reply, the holiday company said: “Unfortunately, not everybody on holiday acts in a manner that is deemed to be considerate of their fellow guests.
“If a situation arises where the behaviour is constant then we have measures where warnings can be issued but this is dependent on guests informing the representative.
“I would extent my apologies that such a thoughtless person affected your time around the pool and your comments will be fed back to the hotelier.”
Gary added: “We sent the letter and were shocked when we received the reply.
“We had also complained about a lot of other things during our stay but we were most worried about the safety of our children and they didn’t seem to take it seriously at all.
“The security at the hotel was non-existent. There was a back door which was unlocked and open 24 hours a day so anybody could walk in to the resort at any time.
“The man taking the photos was even brazen enough to come up to my brother in the hotel lobby and ask if he could have a picture taken just with his son.
“My brother said no and the man just went off and didn’t seem to think it was unusual at all.
“When we read out what happened last week we immediately rang Thomas Cook to tell them about our complaint from 2012 but they haven’t bothered to call back.”
* Police were called to the Anastasia Beach Complex last Tuesday (16/6) after British holidaymakers claimed traffickers tried to lure young children into getaway cars.
Witnesses claimed the gang had been filming the youngsters and swimming with them in the pool for a week while pretending to be hotel employees.
Thomas Cook moved 16 families to another hotel and even helped fly two back to the UK after panic spread in the resort.
The Foreign Office also described it as a “concerning incident” and said it had provided consular assistance to a British family.