British holidaymakers in Spain receive highway pirate warnings

by William ASTON on July 30, 2012

British holidaymakers taking to the road in Spain are repeatedly being targeted by gangs who continue to prey on unwary motorists whilst stealing their belongings, the British Embassy has warned.

Thieves will typically distract drivers of vehicles that have been registered overseas or drivers of rental cars by staging fake accidents and bogus breakdowns whilst their accomplices bide their time and pounce on unwatched bags full of passports and money. Last year, 140 robberies were reported on just one motorway, the AP7.

In the last fortnight, 13 roadside robberies were reported to the British consulate in Barcelona. Officials say that hundreds more go unreported as victims only look for consular help if passports  have been stolen. In other cases, the local police are contacted.

A British Embassy spokesman said that the usual way people are robbed is when they stop at a service station, after which a tyre is slashed. They then head back onto the motorway until the tyre goes flat. While they are changing the tyre, another driver will pull over and pretend to help while an accomplice will empty he car of valuables .

A couple from Leicestershire, Stephen and Helen Robinson, had their bags stolen somewhere between Barcelona and Valencia after they had to stop at a service station. A man who asked them how say a phrase in English distracted them while his friend stole from the couple’s rental car.

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