By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]
Reports of hotels and tourists across the Algarve being targeted by robbers this year have forced the civil governor to convene a meeting on October 17 to discuss the issue.
The rise in crime in the region led Elidérico Viegas, president of the association for hotels and tourist developments of the Algarve (AHETA), to speak out about the issue earlier this month.
He told national news agency Lusa that crime against tourists had increased exponentially in the Algarve by organised criminals.
He added that the hotel sector had also reported several cases of theft from hotel rooms, meaning that criminals are infiltrating in hotels to “steal money or valuable items that are easily converted into money”.
According to Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã, the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) suspects that hundreds of robberies in hotels have been carried out by a gang who could be financing international terrorist groups.
At the time the Algarve Resident went to press on Wednesday, no one from the PJ was available to comment on this matter.
However, in a statement sent to the Algarve Resident, Faro civil governor Carlos Gomes said that no investigations were being carried out by the police relating to “robberies inside Algarve hotels involving suspects with alleged links to international terrorist networks”.
The region’s security in general was discussed during the meeting at the civil government office in Faro and, according to Carlos Gomes, it was decided that the levels of crime registered throughout the year remain stable compared to previous years, especially with respect to violent crime.
“Security is fundamental for tourism and as such for the national economy,” said the civil governor. “The region needs to continue receiving special attention to guarantee levels of security if it is to remain one of the safest tourist destinations in the world.”
Following this meeting, Elidérico Viegas told the Algarve Resident: “A lot has been said in the media about this subject. News stories about robbers linked to terrorist groups have made things worse.”
Elidérico Viegas suggested a greater police presence to guarantee the Algarve as a safe tourist destination. “An increase in police numbers immediately reduces crime by 50 per cent against tourists,” he said.
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