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Police keep an eye on empty properties

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

GNR police have launched an initiative to raise awareness among property owners about how they can prevent burglaries.

A leaflet in English detailing advice for residents on how to best secure their homes has been made available in Silves and Loulé areas with further municipalities expected to follow suit, according to the GNR.

The new awareness campaign is part of the Residência Segura (Secure Residence) programme, which began in 2010 following several violent burglaries in remote areas in the Loulé and Portimão councils.

The programme was created in response to the needs of the community, particularly foreign residents living in isolated locations.

A spokesman from the GNR told the Algarve Resident: “We are distributing leaflets in Portuguese and English with advice for property owners on how to best prevent possible burglaries.”

In these leaflets, the GNR recommend that residents keep all doors closed, particularly at night, turn on various lights, have emergency numbers at hand and, when vacating the house for several days, to always inform their neighbours and local GNR.

“Also, if someone knocks on your door at night, do not open it immediately and always ask the person to identify himself or herself and if strange noises are heard outside the house, alert the police immediately,” said the GNR spokesman.

“The procedures of this security programme include the geo-referencing of all isolated houses for better proximity patrolling, enabled by GPS equipment.”

São Brás de Alportel resident Helga Hampton has praised this initiative. She told the Algarve Resident: “The police have put the citizen at the centre of attention. In conjunction with our own house number, the GNR collates a complete area list of corresponding villa owners’ names, information about periods of absence from the property, and name and telephone number of maids and gardeners who have access to the property.”

She added: “The police will then complete this roster by giving each house its proper GPS coordinate. This list is confidential to your local GNR, whose emergency telephone number will be your first point of contact in case of need, when you will effectively and efficiently be able to identify yourself to them by mentioning your area and your house number.”

The programme Secure Residence also gives advice on looking out for “burglar signs”, which originated in Brazil and have now been found near properties in Portugal.

“The signs indicate to other burglars how easy the property is to break into, as well as indicating when the house is empty or more likely to be empty, if there are elderly people or children alone in the house, among others.

“If you see any of these signs (see picture) around your house, you should remove them immediately and contact your local police,” added the GNR spokesman.

Meanwhile, GNR and PSP police forces started a no-cost special surveillance programme on July 1 for homes that are unoccupied for periods of time.

Owners wanting to apply for this service need to request it online at (only available in Portuguese) or at the GNR and PSP police stations.

The initiative by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, called Verão Seguro – Chave Directa (Safe Summer – Direct Key), is to ensure the security of properties through police patrols and surveillance. PSP and GNR police forces are running the programme until September 15.

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