Opportunistic car theft

“The Algarve is no longer safe. This place used to be a paradise, but not anymore,” exclaimed a German tourist, whose jeep was stolen during what was meant to be a relaxing day out. Whilst taking in the spectacular views at the Praia do Amado, near Aljezur, last weekend, two German women had their Cherokee Jeep stolen when they were ‘caught short’ and stopped by the side of the road to take refuge in the bushes. “We’d left the door open and the key in the ignition,” explained one of the women. “We then heard the engine starting up and realised the jeep was being stolen.”

The authorities later found the stolen vehicle, abandoned and broken down, more than 20 kilometres away. Police were able to track the jeep after listening in on the thieves, who had inadvertently left a mobile phone on. One of the victims called her mobile phone, which she had left in the vehicle. “A woman answered the phone,” she said, “and then didn’t say anything, but she left the call connected and the authorities were then able to trace the jeep and determine how many thieves they were dealing with.”

The perpetrators, two Portuguese men and a woman, abandoned their Renault 5 at Praia do Amado and stole the jeep, fleeing the area via the Via do Infante. Inside the jeep were keys to the house of one of the women, who is a resident in the Algarve, documents, money, clothes and mobile phones. “As it happens,” explained the other woman, who is on holiday and staying with her friend in the Algarve, “it was better that it happened like this, because if we’d have tried to stop them, it could have been a lot worse.”

When they realised their vehicle had been stolen, the victims immediately contacted the GNR in Aljezur and the jeep was found two hours later by the Brigada de Trânsito da GNR from Albufeira. The thieves had abandoned the vehicle on the hard shoulder of the A22, in the direction of Albufeira, about half a kilometre from the crossroads at Lagoa.

Police believe that the speedy getaway had caused the jeep to break down and the criminals had then fled with as much of the contents as possible. The vehicle was taken to the BT headquarters for examination. The police officers involved in the case reiterated their advice that anyone leaving their car, even for a few minutes, should take valuables with them and lock their vehicle securely. Most car crimes are opportunistic.