Algarve: Lowest overall crime since 1998

The government has recently released the annual crime statistics for 2016 showing once again a decrease in overall crime and violent crime for the country as a whole. After analysing the statistics concerning the Algarve, it was concluded that overall crime for 2016 (21,515 cases) registered a decrease of 1.5% compared to 2015. This continues the general decrease since 2010.

In fact, the last time overall crime in the Algarve was lower was way back in 1998 when it stood at 19,690 cases. It then adopted a generally upward trend reaching 29,491 cases in 2010.

The crimes most committed in the Algarve were drunk driving (1.2g/l and over), followed by burglary with break-in, theft from motor vehicles, minor assault and domestic violence, a situation largely unchanged since 2015.

Crimes showing downward trends were metal theft, street robberies with snatching, burglary with break-in and theft from residential building annexes/gardens.

The vast decrease in metal theft (non-precious metals) is in line with national trends resulting from crackdowns on scrapyards that were receiving the goods.

The reduction in thefts from vehicles is also evidence that the message about leaving valuables in cars is getting across. This is noteworthy as there has been a significant increase in tourism in 2016 and hire cars are often the targets for this type of criminality.

Noteworthy in the crimes which showed upward trends were burglaries without break-ins standing at 558 cases (nearly double compared to 2015), opportunist theft up nearly a quarter to 1,305 cases and pickpocketing. These are of concern as it shows that people are failing to take simple measures to protect their property thus making it easy for criminals.

As expected, bank and other frauds showed increases of 48% and 34% respectively, as well as communications and computer fraud, which stood at 421 cases. Clearly more criminals are moving to online fraud, using various scams such as bogus online shopping adverts and fake websites advertising various services including holiday villa rentals.

The number of violent and serious crimes (domestic violence shown separately) in the Algarve stood at 998 cases, an increase of 5.2%. Although against the national trend, the most serious of these are in fact decreasing in the region and are low compared to other main urban areas.

These figures do not include non-reported crime, which has not been established due to an absence of crime victimization surveys in Portugal.

The full details and analysis for each municipality are available in English at

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David Thomas is a former Assistant Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police, consultant to INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. In October 2011 he founded Safe Communities Algarve an on-line platform here in the Algarve to help the authorities and the community prevent crime. It is now registered as Associação SCP Safe Communities Portugal, the first national association of its type in Portugal, with a new website launched in May 2015. He can be contacted at [email protected], or on 913045093 or at