Concern at increasing threat of robberies

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

A number of attacks on tourists in Albufeira this summer have led to concerns that violent crime is becoming an increasing threat to visitors to this popular holiday destination.

Just on Sunday, two foreign tourists were robbed next to the lift at Peneco beach. The thief, despite being hunted by the GNR police, got away.

During the early hours of September 22, a Dutch woman was attacked in the same area and her husband beaten by a group of robbers who tried to steal his wallet.

And on September 20, a British tourist was beaten and robbed in the same area. The victim sought help from reception staff at a nearby hotel and was taken to hospital for treatment to his injures.

Despite an increasing number of robberies and attacks in the downtown area of Albufeira, the city remains full of tourists.

GNR closed

But to add to an already worrying situation, from the beginning of September, the GNR police station in this busy area of the city will start closing at 5pm, leaving people having to travel to the central GNR police station at Estrada de Vale de Pedras, a 15 minute walk away.

A spokesman from Albufeira Câmara told the Algarve Resident: “Safety of citizens is one of the issues which concern us most. This affects not only the people who live here but also those who visit the city, being the major contributors to our local economy.

“The Albufeira Câmara executive keeps in regular contact with the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI) with warnings about the need for special security measures in the city. This is not only to protect the reputation of Albufeira as a tourist destination abroad, but also to ensure the safety of people who come here during the high season.”

The spokesman said that it is not the Câmara that coordinates the work of the GNR police as it is the responsibility of the MAI.

“The closing time of the downtown office of the GNR police is determined by them.

“GNR police patrols in that area have been strengthened and we have hired a private security company to monitor the lift and report all the incidents that take place there,” said the spokesman.

A spokesman from the GNR police told the Algarve Resident: “After the closing hour of the police office at downtown Albufeira, all phone calls are forwarded automatically to the main police office. 

“The closure of the downtown office at 5pm enables us to place more troops on the streets at night time.”

According to GNR police data, the number of crimes reported in July and August this year fell in comparison with the same period last year.

In 2009, some 788 crimes were reported in those two months, while in 2010 there were 739, a fall of 6.22 per cent.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]