New initiative to reduce car crime

Six-thousand crime prevention car stickers were handed over to the president of the association for car hire companies in the Algarve, in an initiative developed by Safe Communities Algarve (SCA) and funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office through the British Vice Consulate in Portimão.

The stickers will be distributed to car hire companies that are members of the Associação das Empresas de Rent-a-Car do Algarve (ARA) for use in their vehicles.

Under the label “SAFE”, the stickers display a simple message aimed at preventing car crime. It advises people to stay away from dark areas when parking a car, ensure valuables are not left in cars, avoid drink driving and check that windows are closed and doors locked.

David Thomas, president of SCA, said that although these tips may seem obvious they are “easily forgotten and criminals take advantage of this”.

The security expert added that in 2012 some 12% of all crime in Portugal involved either theft of vehicles or theft of items from vehicles, “much of it preventable”. In the latter category, some of the items stolen are valuable such as notebooks, tablets, credit cards and passports.

In the Algarve, areas where such crime took place were often beach car parks, unlit areas at night and tourist spots.

He added that the initiative is aimed at providing a “last minute reminder” to drivers and passengers upon leaving the car.

This was echoed by Angela Morado who was responsible for securing the funding. She said: “The FCO and British Vice Consulate are working closely with our stakeholders and local Portuguese authorities in prevention campaigns to reduce cases that are avoidable.

“Last year 25% of stolen passports reported to the Vice Consulate were from cars broken in to. The British Vice Consulate will continue to support proactive initiatives, such as the car stickers, so that visitors to the Algarve can enjoy their holidays incident-free.”

David Thomas added that the self-adhesive stickers are placed on the inside of the driver’s window facing inwards; as the door is opened they become brighter in the sunlight and is the last thing the driver notices when leaving the vehicle.

The initiative has also been supported by the Turismo do Algarve, the GNR and PSP police forces.

Algarve tourism chief Desidério Silva said “I am sure that this simple preventive measure will help all those who visit our region and rent a car. Our main goal is to maintain the Algarve as a safe destination.”

Armando Santana, President of ARA, said: “We know safety is a very important and complex matter, but I think we have made a good step in the right direction.”

The stickers are also available to the public, along with a car key ring with the same message.

Email info@safecommunities if you would like to support this initiative.