By DAISY SAMPSON
RESIDENTS IN Quarteira have united to protect themselves after a series of violent muggings that has left residents fearing for their safety and calling on local police to react.
The foreign residents of the city, tired of feeling afraid to walk the streets after dark, now walk each other home in the evenings while one local bar owner now transports his customers to and from the bar.
The Resident met with eight members of the community who had all been directly affected by the attacks. None wished to be named for fear of reprisals.
“There is crime wherever you go but there seems to be one mugger who is targeting customers of my bar and people generally in the area around the Quarteira Bombeiros station,” said a local bar owner.
A member of staff at the bar told The Resident how she and her partner had been walking home after work and were attacked. “I had a feeling that we were being followed and then suddenly he came from nowhere. I put my hand up and told him to get back but he punched me in the face. My partner then came to help me but the mugger got out a knife and laughed as he waved it in his face.”
One local resident said: “I now park my car illegally right outside the bar because the last time I parked around the corner my friend and I were attacked. Luckily I had put my bag in the car already so he couldn’t get it.”
The bar owner added: “I now make sure that nobody leaves the bar alone. I arrange for people to walk home in groups or I drive them myself to make sure they stay safe.”
Those who had been attacked criticised the local police for their lack of action in the case.
“It took the police 45 minutes to come to us after we had been mugged and then we had to return to the police station three times to fill in paperwork that we didn’t understand,” said one tourist.
A member of staff from the bar told of a couple who were allegedly told by police to “holiday elsewhere” after reporting an attack.
“We need patrols to come down to this area each evening. It is only very occasionally that we see a police car in the area and it is never after 10pm. We also need the GNR to turn up quickly when someone is attacked then perhaps they could catch this mugger,” said the bar owner.
A spokesman for the Quarteira division of the GNR told The Resident: “People need to realise that we only have 50 officers for Quarteira, and that is to cover 24 hours along with days off sick, those on holiday and those on rest days, not to mention the number of officers tied up with court appearances and paperwork.
“We have five vehicles for patrolling but at the moment one has broken down, one has been involved in an accident and another is being serviced. This leaves us with two patrol vehicles for a huge area,” he said.
“To be able to patrol the area effectively we would need at least 150 officers at this post. We are severely understaffed.”
The GNR suggested that people could try to help themselves by paying attention to their surroundings, avoiding poorly lit areas and concealing valuables. The GNR spokesman added: “It is not possible for us to perform miracles.”
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