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Beware of so called police in Spain robbing tourists

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The British authorities issued two warnings for travel to Spain.
A strike is affecting lifeguard services in the area of Arona, South Tenerife.

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The British authorities issued two warnings for travel to Spain.
A strike is affecting lifeguard services in the area of Arona, South Tenerife.

In Spain thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports. Don’t carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.

Many people have their passports stolen while passing through airports, either on arrival in or departure from Spain. Take extra care to guard passports, money and personal belongings when collecting or checking in luggage at the airport, and while arranging car hire.

In some city centres and resorts, thieves posing as police officers may approach tourists and ask to see their wallets for identification purposes. If this happens to you, establish that the officers are genuine and if necessary show some other form of ID. Genuine police officers don’t ask to see wallets or purses.

In any emergency, call 112. To report a crime, including stolen property and lost or stolen passports, visit the nearest Policia Nacional or Guardia Civil Station to make a police report (denuncia). If you have had belongings stolen, you will need to keep the report for insurance purposes. If your passport is lost or stolen, you will also need the report to apply for an emergency travel document from the nearest British Consulate and to apply for a replacement passport when you return to the UK. Make sure you get a ‘police report’ (una denuncia) and not a ‘sworn declaration’ (una declaración judicial), as the latter may not be accepted as evidence of the crime for insurance purposes, or when applying for your new passport.

Personal attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare but they do occur, and are often carried out by other British nationals. Be alert to the possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs including ‘GHB’ and liquid ecstasy. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they aren’t spiked. Alcohol and drugs can make you less vigilant, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you drink, know your limit – remember that drinks served in bars are often stronger than those in the UK. Avoid splitting up from your friends, and don’t go off with people you don’t know.

There has been an increase in reports of burglaries in areas with holiday accommodation and residential areas in major cities. Make sure your accommodation has adequate security measures in place and lock all doors and windows at night or when you aren’t in. If you’re a tourist and are concerned about the security of your accommodation, speak to your tour operator or the owner. Make sure you know the contact details of the local emergency services and the location of the nearest police station.

When driving, be wary of approaches by bogus police officers in plain clothes travelling in unmarked cars. In all traffic-related matters, police officers will be in uniform, and all police officers, including those in plain clothes, carry official ID. Unmarked police vehicles have a flashing electronic sign on the rear window which reads Policía (Police) or Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), and normally have blue flashing lights. Genuine police officers will only ask you to show them your documents and will not ask for your bag or wallet/purse.

If in any doubt, you should talk through the car window and contact the Civil Guard on 062 or Police on 112 and ask them to confirm that the registration number of the vehicle corresponds to an official police vehicle.

Be aware of ‘highway pirates’ who target foreign-registered and hire cars, especially those towing caravans. Some will (forcefully) try to make you stop, claiming there is something wrong with your car or that you have damaged theirs. If you decide to stop to check the condition of your/their vehicle, stop in a public area with lights like a service station, and be extremely wary of anyone offering help.

Only use officially registered or licensed taxis.

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About the author

editor

Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.