A FACEBOOK group has claimed that crooks are disguising themselves as women to rob tourists in the Costa Blanca hotspot of Benidorm, which is massively popular with British holidaymakers.
The claims were made on a closed group with 9,398 members that says, “The purpose of this group is to make people aware of the crime escalation in Benidorm and hopefully by keeping people informed as to its whereabouts and the offenders help them have a safe holiday.”
“It will also hopefully make the authorities more aware that we the holidaymaker will not allow this to be swept under the carpet as though it doesn’t happen
Brits are being urged to take extra care and guard their wallets, phones and luggage from the moment they arrive.
Posting on The Benidorm Robberies, Muggings and the Pea Men One group victim wrote, “My 84-year-old dad had his wallet stolen five minutes after getting off the coach outside Don Pancho Hotel and also my sister had her wallet stolen in the indoor market.
“I would just like to say to all people going over there to be very, very careful.”
Another user wrote: “After an aborted landing at Alicante because of the weather and landed at Murcia we finally got to the Don Pancho 14 hours after leaving home, only to get off the coach and be immediately pickpocketed.”
The poster said she managed to snatch back her purse adding, “She legged it – luckily for her.”
The UK’s Foreign Office official advice says, “Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, but you should be alert to the existence of street crime, especially thieves using distraction techniques. 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.
They advise, in an emergency to call 112.
To report a crime, including stolen property and lost or stolen passports, visit the nearest Policia Nacional, regional police (Ertzaintza in the Basque Country, Mossos d’Esquadra in Catalonia, and Policia Foral in Navarre) or Guardia Civil Station to file a police report (denuncia). While in Spain, you can also call a dedicated English-speaking police line on +34 902 102 112.
If you’ve had belongings stolen, you’ll need to keep the police report for insurance purposes. If your passport is lost or stolen, you’ll 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.
The latest advice goes on to say, “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.
“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.”