British resident assaulted and robbed at her home

by INÊS LOPES [email protected]

Two women, one British and the other Portuguese, were violently assaulted and robbed at their homes by three armed men on the morning of January 5.

The two incidents occurred one hour apart and police are investigating if they are related.

The British woman, an Algarve resident for more than 20 years, lives with her husband in an isolated property near Messines.

The victim, who did not wish to be named, spoke to the Algarve Resident about the ordeal she endured at the hands of three men who entered her home when she was alone, physically and verbally abusing her for one hour.

She said: “I was in the living room when I spotted the individuals wearing balaclavas outside in the garden. I managed to shut the patio windows but they broke a window to one of the bedrooms.”

The victim said she tried to remain calm and comply with the demands of the trio, who were after money and gold.

“I told them I had neither and just said ‘take whatever you want’. They pushed me around, hit me on the head several times with the rifle and shoved me into a cupboard where I remained tied for one hour while they trashed the house,” she said, adding that they became angry when they couldn’t find what they were looking for.

“Enraged, they broke several items in the house including two televisions and even splattered cooking sauce all over the kitchen walls.”

The trio made off with sets of keys and the couple’s car, which was parked in the driveway.

The local GNR was called to the scene and investigation of the case has been taken over by forensic detectives from the Polícia Judiciária in Portimão.


An hour earlier a Portuguese woman in her 90s had been attacked in a similar way, again by three men, who entered her secluded property in the Salir area of Loulé council, tied her up and fled the scene with a few valuables. Faro’s Polícia Judiciária are investigating the case.

The British victim admitted that it is “very easy to become complacent in the Algarve when it comes to your personal safety”.

“We always think it won’t happen to us,” she said, adding that she has always felt safe where she lives but the recent incident has led to the couple stepping up security in the property.

The British woman says what happened to her should serve as a warning to other residents, particularly those who find themselves alone in their isolated properties, to become more aware of their personal security.

“I have called a few people I know who could be vulnerable to this type of crime and alerted them of what happened to me,” she said.

Other similar incidents occurred in November last year when two foreign families were violently attacked and robbed by gangs at their homes in the Castro Marim and Faro councils (see Algarve Resident November 11 issue).

On December 6, a Dutch couple was also attacked and held hostage at their home in Arão, Portimão, by three armed men wearing balaclavas. All victims suffered injuries and some had to receive medical treatment.

Coincidentally this week, ISECA – The Independent Security Agency released a guideline on how residents should deal with an intruder in their home.

David Thomas, Director of ISECA, said: “In carrying out crime prevention surveys, I am asked frequently how people should deal with an intruder in their home.

“Although most intruders are basically burglars who do not wish to be confronted, there are occasions in the Algarve where face to face confrontations have taken place with injuries being inflicted on the householder(s).”

David says there are ways in which the risk of being harmed can be minimised in these situations by taking certain actions.

For instance, he says that if you arrive home and think there is a burglar inside your house, you should not “under any circumstances” enter the property.

Or if you come face to face with an intruder in your home, it is important to remain calm and never adopt a threatening pose.

“In a stressful situation it is better to comply with some of the demands they may make, but do not become overly compliant by offering more than they are demanding,” said David Thomas.

For a complete guideline produced by ISECA based on advice from a number of police forces, please visit http://www.safecommunitiesalgarve.com/downloads/Dealing%20with%20intruders.pdf.