Easter holidaymakers heading for Spain warned over rises in theft and pickpocketing

Tourists heading for an Easter break by the Mediterranean are being warned to look out for their valuables when visiting busy urban areas.

 British Consulates in Spain are reporting rising trends in the number of street crimes involving stolen passports, money and other valuables.  A stolen bag leads to frustration, extra costs and lost holiday time as tourists deal with the consequences.

 The British Consulate in Barcelona, one of the most popular visitor cities in Europe, issued 1,320 emergency travel documents (ETD) in 2012 – some 75 per cent of which were the result of stolen passports. This was an increase of 19 per cent from 1,072 during the previous year. During the first two months of this year, the number of ETD issued was 120, a 20 per cent rise on the 100 provided during the same period last year.  

 Meanwhile in Madrid, the British Consulate issued 362 ETD during 2012 – the equivalent of one a day – up 23 per cent from 294 the previous year. During January and February this year 50 were issued, a 10 per cent increase on the 45 during the same period last year. 

 An ETD – which enables a traveller to return to the UK if they have lost their passport – currently costs €115 (approx 100 pounds).

 Dave Thomas, Consular Director for Southern Europe, said,  ‘Unfortunately we have seen increases in pickpocketing and distraction thefts. We urge holidaymakers to keep an eye on their belongings at all times.  We want to reduce the numbers of British visitors who come to us for help over stolen passports and belongings, so they can get on with enjoying their Easter breaks instead of spending their precious holiday time in our consular offices’.

British Consulates in Spain are working with local police, tour operators, airports, ports, car hire companies and main railway stations to help tackle city crime.  

 The three main methods used by city criminals are:

 

  • Pickpocketing on public transport and in busy areas.
  • Distraction techniques (asking victims for help or directions, spilling something on clothes and offering to help).
  • Unattended bag / handbag snatching in hotels, restaurants, cafés, airport and train station.                                                       
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