British Embassy In Spain Warns Of Distraction Robberies

By Editorial 20 June, 2014

The British Embassy in Madrid is warning Britons in Spain to be on guard for highway robbers targeting foreign-registered vehicles and hire cars with distraction thefts.

British Consulates across mainland Spain say they are receiving regular reports of robberies from vehicles occurring along the coast between Barcelona and Alicante, across Andalucia in the south, and in the Madrid region. According to the Embassy, Spanish police have recorded 126 instances relating to the motorway between the French border and the Valencia region over the past two years.

The UK Foreign Office has released a video, entitled "Don't let thieves drive you to distraction," which shows the most common tactics used. Typically, the robbers flag down their victim by indicating that there is a problem with their vehicle. One then distracts the occupant's attention, whilst an unseen accomplice takes items. Other methods include throwing something that creates a sudden noise, or puncturing a tyre at a roadside rest stop. In some cases, the drivers of parked cars have also been targeted.

Will Middleton, who is the Consular Regional Director for Spain, warned travellers to be wary of anyone attempting to stop them when driving, or trying to point out a problem or offer assistance. He advises drivers to keep going until they reach a service area, and in cases where they have to stop, to make sure one person stays in the vehicle. Further, valuables should be kept out of sight and out of reach. In situations where a vehicle actually does have a problem, drivers should call their emergency breakdown service.

He added that the robberies are for the most part non-violent, but that such incidents can be distressing and costly. Consular staff estimate that 1 in 20 of all emergency passports issued last year as a result of theft were following motorway robberies.

Middleton also explained that the Embassy is working with the Spanish police to alert British visitors to how these gangs work.

Don't let thieves drive you to distraction from Foreign Office on Vimeo.

Tags: United Kingdom | Spain | Expats | Travel | Welfare |


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