Officials take steps to tackle crime in region

By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]

A British couple and their two teenage children were held up by four masked robbers at their home in Sobradinho de Alfeição, Loulé, on January 9, at a time when the council’s Mayor announces initiatives to help combat crime.

The father, who has not been named, told Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã: “They came in through a window, threw pepper spray on all of us and started hitting me and my wife with iron bars.” 

During the attack, the children were locked in a bathroom while the masked men robbed the house and demanded the pin numbers to bank cards from the parents.

“I tried to go to the children, but they hit me again,” said the mother. “It was like a horror film that you see on television.”

A GNR spokesman confirmed the incident to the Algarve Resident, saying that the robbers used crow bars and a knife and that the case is now being investigated by the Polícia Judiciária.

He added, however, as a positive development in the Loulé area, that the GNR police caught a 28-year old drug addict red handed with stolen goods on January 10.

“He is known to be a drug user who has no job and so was a likely thief. He was found with stolen goods and has been jailed awaiting trial. We suspect him of many robberies in the council,” said the spokesman.

Lions stolen

Meanwhile, two 500kg bronze lion statues were stolen from the front of a luxury nine-bedroom holiday villa in Loulé council earlier this month.

Colin Hayle, the concierge of the property, told the Algarve Resident that the lions were unique and made to order more than six years ago at a cost of 30,000 euros.

“We have been told by many people that they could have been stolen to order by Sporting football team fans, but we have had no news about the robbery so far from the police,” he said.

He added that the owners of the property, who are British, have been quoted 40,000 euros for the lions to be remade, as the original cast no longer exists.

“The lions were insured, but we would love to get them back so we are offering a 1,000 euro reward for their return or information that would lead to their recovery.” Colin can be contacted on 968 335 720.

He added that many tourists who go on Algarve safaris used to stop at the gates to photograph the lions. “We don’t know how they were stolen or why, but we’d love to have them back” he said. 

Consul burgled

Meanwhile, Sweden’s consul to the Algarve, Agnete Sylvain, has voiced her opinion about the lack of police efficiency in the region and is due to contact the civil governor after being a victim of burglary in her home in Loulé council last month.

She told the Algarve Resident that she was woken at around 11pm by the barking of her neighbour’s dog, which made her look out of the window.

“I saw a person hanging over the wall to my courtyard,” she said.

She saw a person walk towards the gate where a car was waiting in the street with the engine running and the lights on. She found that the burglar had stolen a television and laptop computer as well as destroying the outside sensor lights.

After reporting the incident to the GNR, Agnete Sylvain said that she is going to contact the civil governor to talk about the situation. “I think that the efficiency of the police is rather poor,” she said.

Following these various crimes in Loulé council, Mayor Seruca Emídio told the Algarve Resident: “I have not only personally contacted the majority of the robbery victims, because I think that the presence of the mayor is important to the services the Câmara can offer to support people, but also started initiatives with the government and the local police forces.”

He added that the latest initiative to try to improve security in the council followed a meeting in Lisbon with the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Secretary of State of Internal Affairs and the Secretary of State for Tourism, which led to a reinforcement of more than 20 GNR personnel in Loulé council.

According to Seruca Emídio, a plan to build a new GNR station in Almancil is also being contemplated.

Meanwhile, the German consulate in Faro was also targeted by burglars this month.

A consulate spokesman told the Algarve Resident:  “Our consulate was broken into at the weekend. The door was forced by the burglars who stole a laptop computer and around 600 euros in cash.”

Câmara speaks out against crime

Portimão Câmara has requested an urgent meeting with civil governor Isilda Gomes and members of the police forces to resolve the ongoing problem of crime in the historic city centre.

In a statement sent to the Algarve Resident, Portimão Câmara said that a group of residents had met with Câmara representatives to tell of their worries about the lack of security and to ask for help in resolving the issue.

During the meeting, the residents identified two bars that seem to lead to rowdy behaviour and criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, which cause them to avoid leaving their homes at night.

“This situation had already been reported to the security authorities in September, with Portimão Câmara having been alerted to the problem and asked for rapid intervention,” said the statement.

It added that as the actions carried out in the field were not effective, “with residents being dissatisfied with the alleged passiveness of the security forces,” the Câmara was forced to request a meeting with the civil governor.

Portimão Câmara has said that it is going to carry out an inventory of all similar bar establishments in the historic centre and will close those that are identified as affecting public health and adding to the insecurity of residents in the area.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]