By RUTH SHARPE
THREE FURTHER brutal and violent attacks have taken place in the days leading up to Christmas on expatriates living in Faro.
Last week The Resident reported on five attacks that had occurred within the last six months in the Olhão and Faro areas.
The latest attacks have again involved residents in the more remote areas of Faro.
The first reported incident took place on Wednesday December 21 in Funchais. Four masked men entered the unlocked house late at night while the Dutch owner was in his office.
As his two dogs tried to defend their owner, the men attacked the animals with crowbars, killing one of them in the process and badly wounding the other.
The man, whose wife was out for the evening, was severely beaten, suffering a wound to the head. The attackers cut off the tip of his little finger and threatened to kill him if he didn’t give them the PIN numbers of his credit cards.
After tying the man up and covering his head, the thieves spent 45 minutes in the house, taking all electronic goods, including mobile phones, which later registered phone calls to Romania and Spain. The assailants managed to take 600 euros out of the couple’s bank accounts before the cards were cancelled.
On the evening of December 23, another break-in took place in a similar fashion at the home of an English couple in Santa Bárbara de Nexe. At 11.30pm, four masked men broke into the house entering up steps that lead to the first floor balcony.
They quickly moved into the dining room where the woman was clearing the table after holding a family dinner. One of the men punched her in the face. Her scream alerted her husband who was in the kitchen. Before he could react he was hit in the face with a crowbar.
Both were then taken to their living room and bound up with their hands behind their backs and their feet tied together.
The couple had their son, daughter-in-law and grandchild staying the night, who were sleeping downstairs as the attackers entered. After tying the couple upstairs, two of the men went down and immediately beat and tied the others up in their bedroom.
The men then proceeded to ransack the house taking valuables, food, alcohol, cameras, a laptop and credit cards. They even tore open Christmas presents that were under the tree, taking those of value.
They threatened the couple with the crowbars and knives saying that if they gave them the wrong PIN numbers they would come back in half an hour and slit their throats. The man was also marched to his safe and forced to open it and give them the contents. They then carried the woman downstairs, pushing the man down on his back, before locking them in a room.
Four hours later, at 3.30am, they announced they were leaving and said not to move for 40 minutes. They left in a car that the son had rented while he was visiting his parents for Christmas.
Both the father and his son managed to break free of their ties and broke out of the windows in their respective rooms. They then went to a neighbour’s house to use the phone and alert the authorities, who arrived on the scene within 20 minutes.
All four were then taken to hospital where they spent the following day undergoing scans. Although badly bruised, no serious damage was sustained apart from the son who needed 12 stitches in his hand. The baby slept through the incident and was unhurt. The thieves managed to get over 2,000 euros from the cash machine before the cards were cancelled.
The third attack happened on December 24, this time involving six men breaking into a woman’s house situated between Estoi and Moncarapacho. The men broke in at 9pm and stayed until 1am, again beating the woman who was held captive, taking all her valuables.
In the latter two cases the men claimed they were Russian, however police believe it is more likely they are Romanian. They spoke in English to their captives, although one man repeated ‘calma’, a word that means calm down in Portuguese and Romanian.
Although the police cannot release any further information concerning these incidents, The Resident is aware that Lisbon CID is now involved in the investigation. The British Consulate has been in touch with the police and will be releasing advice for those living in the region.
In every case it is clear that the men have been watching the houses and waiting for an ideal time to strike. Residents in the area are advised to keep all doors and windows locked at night.
These thieves have got away with huge amounts of money and valuables and, according to the victims, these men have also stolen their trust. Although they refuse to leave their homes, it will be a long time before they can live peacefully again.
Do you have a view about this story? [email protected]