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Families assaulted and robbed at home

by INÊS LOPES & PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

Two families of foreign residents and an elderly Portuguese man have been violently attacked and robbed at their Algarve homes, in separate incidents, since the beginning of the month.

One incident involving foreign residents was at Quinta do Sobral in the Castro Marim council on November 2.

According to the GNR police, the family, a Dutch man, 56, his British wife, 51, a teacher, and their daughter, 26, whose identities have not been confirmed by official sources, were surprised by a gang of four men who forced entry into the house at around 10pm before violently attacking and robbing them.

Both the husband and wife suffered serious injuries to their faces and were initially taken to Faro Hospital and transferred the next day to the maxillofacial unit at São José Hospital in Lisbon.

A spokesman for the hospital confirmed to the Algarve Resident that a woman was treated for her injuries, spending a couple of days in hospital but has since been released.

The husband did not require hospital admission.

A spokesman from Faro Hospital told the Algarve Resident: “The daughter was admitted to hospital here to receive treatment for injuries to the face but was discharged the next day.”

The gang fled the crime scene in the family’s BMW, taking with them computers, credit cards, cash and jewellery.

In an attempt to catch the thieves, police closed the borders at the Guadiana Bridge, five kilometres from the family’s house, but the gang escaped.

In a second incident, a German family suffered a similar ordeal at the hands of a group of four men at their home in Azinheiro, near Estoi, Faro, on Saturday, November 5.

According to police, the woman, 50, her daughter, 25, and son, 19, were held hostage at their home after being pepper sprayed, while the thieves looked for valuables in the house.

When the son arrived at home at 8.30pm the men, wearing masks, appeared from behind bushes and attacked him.

He managed to free himself and entered the house. The assailants then proceeded to break a window and forced entry into the house, fleeing the scene 10 minutes later after taking a laptop and games console.

Police suspect the gang could be the same that also assaulted a 60-year old Portuguese man at his home in Luz de Tavira on November 1.

The assailants are said to have covered the victim’s head and forced him to hand over gold and money. The police could not confirm the stolen items.

These cases follow GNR efforts to bolster their presence at isolated rural areas of the Algarve in a bid to provide improved security for residents living in secluded properties.

A police spokesman confirmed that they will make “every effort to fully investigate these incidents and bring the culprits to justice”.

“If anyone has any information concerning these crimes or witnessed anything unusual then they should contact the police immediately,” the police spokesman said.

Independent security agency ISECA Director David Thomas welcomed the police statement to solve these crimes as soon as possible.

“Our sympathy should go to the victims concerned who suffered these terrible ordeals,” he said, adding that although this type of crime was rare in the Algarve, the current incidents meant that “one can never be complacent”.

He echoed police advice to look out for anyone acting suspiciously in the vicinity of residences and report this to police.  

He advised that residents should always take crime prevention measures produced by the GNR. These are available for download in English and Portuguese from Safe Communities Algarve at www.safecommunitiesalgarve.com.