By ELOISE WALTON
MORE AND more homes belonging to foreign residents are being targeted by burglars across the Algarve.
Following our article last week about theft from homes around the Silves area, The Resident has been contacted by a number of readers who have also been victims of burglaries in recent weeks.
A Dutch resident from Silves, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “The situation at the moment is very worrying due to the fact that Silves GNR are doing nothing but writing reports and saying that they don’t have enough money to do patrols.”
He added: “I have been burgled 14 times so far this year. All my foreign neighbours, two other Dutch families and one British family, have also been burgled repeatedly, but our Portuguese neighbours are not targeted.”
He said that, on one occasion, he even caught and tied up a burglar before calling the GNR. “The burglar was freed the next day and the GNR told me that, in future, I should take him far out into the countryside and beat him up.”
In total, this resident said that he has spent around 30,000 euros on extra security measures and fencing around his property. A spokesman from the GNR said: “We can confirm that this is mainly a drugs related problem and we are aware of the cases and the people who are causing problems.”
The spokesman added that he urges residents and visitors to report all crimes and to press charges, as well as to be extra careful not to leave any valuable belongings within easy reach of burglars. “Foreign residents and holidaymakers are considered easy targets by thieves as often they tend to relax too much and think that crime doesn’t exist in Portugal,” he added.
John Hodgkinson, a British holidaymaker from Derbyshire, also contacted The Resident and said that his timeshare apartment at a popular resort near Portimão was burgled while he and his family were asleep in the early hours of November 21.
A man dressed all in black and wearing a balaclava entered the apartment around 4.30am, causing his son’s partner to wake up and scream when he entered the bedroom. “My son chased him out of the bedroom and onto the balcony, where they struggled,” he said. “The intruder pulled away from him and nosedived over the balcony railings.”
According to John, the GNR arrived within 10 minutes and searched the ground but could not find the burglar. “They should have searched the local hospital,” he said.
“We like the Algarve very much and have been coming for quite a few years but after this terrifying experience we are thinking of selling our timeshare.”
In a bid to explain how the Portuguese judicial system works, the GNR spokesman told The Resident: “We arrest the burglars and often the next day they are taken to court. However, as these crimes are considered by judges as minor crimes, according to the new Penal Code, the culprits are often released. It is not within the GNR’s power to change this situation as frustrating as it is.”
The Resident contacted the Civil Governor of the Algarve, Isilda Gomes, who declined to comment on the situation.
If you, or someone you know, has been a victim of burglary in the Algarve, please contact us at [email protected]
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