Having just spent a week in the Algarve I would like to add my own “Holiday Horror” letter, but with a slightly different opinion of the Portuguese police.
I am lucky enough to own a property near São Brás de Alportel – not in a particularly populated area and with very few English-speaking residents.
On Monday September 29, we returned home to find the house had been broken into and a fair amount of items stolen. My neighbour called the local GNR in São Brás for me, and they were at my house within five minutes. They are on very high alert in that area as there is currently a spate of robberies and break-ins going on.
The Portuguese police have had some very bad press in the past couple of years so I was automatically apprehensive about what would happen.
In all, there were three GNR cars and a forensic car in attendance. They were extremely patient while taking the statements and lists of items stolen (I speak fairly good Portuguese so whether or not this made a difference, I’m not sure). They were aware that there were three women on holiday together, and they could see how anxious we were following the break-in.
They made sure we knew that they would be driving past checking the area; that I had the number for the local station should I need it; and when they did drive past, they made sure they acknowledged us if we saw them. They also asked for a key to the gate and offered to check the house on a regular basis as I don’t live there at present.
Would you get the same attention in the UK any more? I doubt it very much – we would probably have been given a crime number and that would have been the end of it. I can’t praise the São Brás GNR highly enough – even at the station a few days later, the officers involved at the time all came and said hello and asked how we were all doing.
J. Gorse, by email