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Spain - thief scam revolving around car rentals

Spain - thief scam revolving around car rentals

Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:05 PM
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Spain - thief scam revolving around car rentals

Hi All,

My husband's coworker just returned from a lengthy vacation in Spain (which he and his wife absolutely loved). They have traveled around the world for decades so they are travel pros but nevertheless fell victim to a thievery scam when they rented a car in Barcelona. I wanted to post the particulars not to warn against renting a car in Spain, but so that fellow Fodorites can be aware of the scam and hopefully prevent this from happening to them.

-5 blocks or so from the Avis in Barcelona a bike with two guys pulled up next to the car and punctured a tire.
-A few more blocks later and John (name changed for privacy) had to pull over to change it.
-Meanwhile, the guy driving the bike dropped off his partner. He (the driver) then got near the car and tried to distract people.
-The partner crawled up to the other side door and stole whatever he could grab.
-5 minutes after this happened, the theives charged $2,000 at a tabacco store of all places that is in this same area.

The response of the police was "another one"? They showed up at the embassy to get Jane (name changed) a new passport and in thirty minutes they were the third report of this exact same incident.

The only way to counter it is too lock the car doors while changing the tire as you can't keep driving on a completely flat tire. Or lock yourselves in the car and call the Spanish equivalent of AAA from a cell phone if you have one on you.


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Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:20 PM
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oops, sorry about the typos! Make that "tobacco" store and "thieves".
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Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 06:17 AM
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Thanks for the heads up, TA
ira is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 06:29 AM
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Friends of mine had exactly this scam pulled on them a couple of months ago. They're very experienced and savvy travelers and are berating themselves for not being more careful.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 08:10 AM
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goddesstogo - did this happen in Spain too?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 08:16 AM
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Yes, it did.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 08:23 AM
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I've seen this scam posted previously on Fodors, also. And it was also reported in Spain.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34765246
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Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 08:28 AM
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It would not have helped in this case, but I usually pick up a can of repair spray for €5-7 when i rent a car. When a tire has a puncture (also by "natural" causes), it inflates and seals the tire. Needless to say that this is no permanent repair. But it helps to get back to the hotel and not having to change the tire in an unfavorable area.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 08:39 AM
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That stuff that is in a can can't always be used for puncture, not if they are on the outer wall, I believe.

This isn't even an issue about Spain, in particular (although I'm sure there are areas like around Barcelona where this happens more often), but just general advice. I would never get out of my car and leave it unlocked if I were not right by the door, anywhere, not even at home -- no, not even to change a tire. I lock the door just to pump gas. I don't quite understand where all these people were that being described, but unfortunatley this is just an example of people who are not savvy about things, in general. People have to learn to be more cautious about all kinds of things. People have their purse and things stolen out of their cars at gas stations where I live if the doors are unlocked.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 08:41 AM
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It happens in Brussels too.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2008, 09:07 AM
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This scam in different variants..is older than life. I've heard of it here in Spain and also in Italy.
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