THE RECENT series of attacks on petrol stations in the Algarve has left owners and staff scared of working evening shifts.
António Saleiro, president of the Associação Nacional de Revendedores de Combustíveis (ANAREC), the association for fuel traders, confesses that every time the telephone rings at night, he thinks the worst.
There are traders already threatening to close their petrol stations during the night. This is the case of Luís Estiveira, owner of eight petrol stations in the Algarve, who is intending to close three – in Lagoa, Pêra and Lagos – which currently open between 11pm and 8am. “This measure will be taken after the Christmas and New Year period,” he said, justifying the step. “It is necessary to guarantee the safety of the staff and clients.” He guarantees that other owners are likely to follow his example.
In the Algarve, there are around 20 petrol stations, of a total of around 80, which are open 24 hours a day. Of the 20, less than half have closed-circuit television surveillance equipment installed.
José Fernandes, manager of two petrol stations located in Alporchinhos and Armação de Pêra, is well aware of the reality. One of the petrol stations was robbed in August by four armed individuals and the other was the subject of an attempt to steal its cash machine, allegedly by the same gang who shot dead the Lagos police chief (see front page story of The Resident’s edition of December 16). “This is becoming a risky profession”, he said.
The police are demanding more resources to combat crime. Recently, representatives from the Sindicato dos Profissionais de Polícia (SPP), the police union, met with the Civil Governor of Faro to request the replacement of 650 old guns currently being used by the squadrons in the Algarve – Star and Walter models which are around 60 and 40 years old respectively.
António Cartaxo, chief of the SPP, stated that as well as the arms, a request was also made for increased investment in vehicles and bulletproof vests (there are currently only three at each police station in the region).