My Friends Were Robbed in Spain

Old Nov 15th, 2008, 09:51 AM
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My Friends Were Robbed in Spain

My friends and another couple had just rented a van at or near Melaga (sp?). As they were driving down a secondary road, they realized they had a flat tire. They stopped to change the tire and a "very nice and polite" Spanish couple stopped and talked with them. The woman went back to her car, then returned grabbing a purse and an attache case from the front seat as she did-these included all of one couple's money, ids, camera and copies of documents. Getting everything replaced and "stops" put on cards "killed" a day and certainly put a pall on the rest of the trip. Call police before you get out of your car should something like this happen.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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The woman took the items to her car and then returned to continue talking! I didn't make that very clear.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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How terrible for them. I am sure it was a big let down.

I am often made aware that one cannot take anything for granted, in ANY country.

Were they speaking english? How did they know the couple was spanish & not from elsewhere? Not to presume but Spain is full of individuals from many countries, espcially in a port city.

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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 10:18 AM
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Friend said they spoke English poorly but enough to commiserate about the tire. Don't know if her "ear" is good enough to discern if thieves were Spanish, Italian or French.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 10:23 AM
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In any case so sorry, a good lesson for all of us.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 10:34 AM
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How awful for your friends.

I remember reading about the flat tire scam here on the board. The flat tire is always followed by the approach of "helpful" people nearby. I think one of the scenarios involved a passing motorcycle.

It reinforces the rule about never ever leaving valuables unguarded even for moment.

Thanks for the warning.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 10:37 AM
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I have read warnings on that scam mumerous times over the internet, including here at Fodor's. Specifically, Barcelona bound travelers have been warned about the flat tire-pullover Good Samaritans scam for years. Sorry to hear about your friends's misfortune.

I have to ask: how this woman got away with taking a purse and an attache case from a FRONT seat of a VAN with four (4) bystanders standing by?
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 10:56 AM
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Terrible.

Regarding this scam, which obviously is not unique to Spain, other than to have your purse and valuables on your person when you get out of the car, or having one passenger remain in the car while the other changes the tire, how would you avoid having this sort of thing happen?



(I do not carry a cell phone in Europe, so could not call the police; would you really call the police if you get a flat??)
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 11:02 AM
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When you rent any car - US or europe - you should do a "preflight check" to make sure everything (tires, lights, wipers etc) are in working order and not damaged. (It sounds like the miscreants has given one of the tires a slow leak.

If this happens, at least one person MUST stay with the belongings (and the car doors should be locked) while you try to fix the flat. (Note: I would do this in the US as well as outside. Remember the spate of attacks on tourists renting cars at the Miami airport some years ago?)

Separately, I would never be without a cell phone - and yes, in this instance would call the car rental agency to send out a new van.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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This incident is really awful. It makes me realize that if I drive again in Spain--or anywhere else, really--I should have a cell phone--and emergency numbers.

I have to say again that I ALWAYS wear my moneybelt under my clothes with my passport, credit card and big money in it. ALWAYS. Because I do this, I've never lost any of those things, whereas I have lost or been robbed of unimportant items, such as a wallet containing my driver's license but nothing else.

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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 11:12 AM
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They simply didn't know or suspect-had it been a couple of seedy-looking guys, they might have been suspicious. This was a nice-looking middle-aged couple.

Travel agent friend says they were lucky it wasn't at gun point.

Forewarned.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 12:54 PM
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Yes, I've read this "flat-tire" scam multiple times here on Fodors now, perhaps 2x/year at least? Seems to me it happens more frequently in Spain, although I understand it happens in other countries as well.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 02:20 PM
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happens all the time..
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 05:24 PM
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If all the thieves were "seedy looking guys" they would never get near anyone - or into good hotels or restaurants to pick pockets or steal purses.

They've not homeless beggars - they're thieves - and looking respectable is their stock in trade. To think otherwise is just childish.

Do they trust everyone who dresses well - and mistrust everyone who looks sloppy?
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 05:37 PM
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They are common in Spain these days and I am told they are not Spanish but often Columbians living in Spain by their wits. I lost my camera to a scam several years ago in Madrid ON EASTER SUNDAY NO LESS. They count on diversion, so do not diverted.
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Old Nov 15th, 2008, 11:20 PM
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nytraveler,

"Do they trust everyone who dresses well - and mistrust everyone who looks sloppy?"

That's kind of a leap beyond the context of the thread.
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 12:24 AM
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One really wearies of hearing tourists simply repeat the Spanish self-comforting cliche that it is immigrants from South America who are responsible for Spain's serious thievery problems. The mentality of the Spanish police and the myth that Spaniards shouldn't bother to look at the home-grown structure of theft operations has a great deal to do with why Spain hasn't solved this decades-old problem. There is also an underlying resentment of the hordes of foreigners, mainly from Britain, who have altered the culture of coastal Spain, which cultivates an indifference to what happens to tourists.

Nearly half a century of assiduous practice has made Spanish thieves masters of their trade, and it's a thriving business. Tourists are well advised simply not to talk to strangers, not walk around with valuables and keep a grip on their documents and wallet when there is no other choice but to walk around with them.

And it might help if people didn't keep letting the Spanish off the hook by upholding the national myth that "this isn't Spanish behavior".

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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 12:29 AM
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Take a look at this 1985 article from the NYTimes which I just found on the 'net. It talks about why Americans are targeted by theft -- and notes that the Spanish response was to evict Iranian and Nigerian immigrants, the bogey-folk of the day.

http://tinyurl.com/6j8xkm
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 12:33 AM
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I better add before this post clogs up with protests that the Spanish are a lovely people that I agree: The Spanish are a lovely people and I love going to Spain -- despite its having a longstanding problem with street-level stealing from tourists.
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Old Nov 16th, 2008, 01:18 AM
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excsue me, but the hoards of professional theives that have invaded spain in the last ten years has tilted the scales as far as crime goes. ask ANYONE who works in the police force. of course we still have the homegrown version parasite, but we are a multi-racial/culture soceity now in ALL respects, thievery included.

the problem IS::: and i repeat... the judicial system.. PERIOD.

unless you steal more than 3,00o euros.. you do not commit an incarcelable crime.

most thieves who have been caught have been arrested 20-30- 40 times .

we put them on the streets after slapping their hand.

why can't this be remedied?

The entire population and police force asks the same question. soon i miagine law abiding citizens will revolt.. we are getting closer and closer to intolerance with the goevernment and outdated judicial system and levels of punishment.

anyway.. keep coming here.. lovely country. lovely people. just watch your belongings, especialy in crowded areas, as though there were a group of professionals lurking just WAITING for you to put your guard down.. because they ARE.

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