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CRIME

How to prevent a burglary at your home in Spain

Spain is generally a safe country but there are still tens of thousands of burglaries happening every year. Here are the best ways to prevent someone from breaking into your property in Spain.

How to prevent a burglary at your home in Spain
Photo: Steffen Salow/Pixabay

Burglaries and shop/business thefts actually dropped by 27 percent overall in Spain in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to the latest Interior Ministry figures.

However, it’s a bittersweet figure for the Spanish government as despite the lower rate of criminality during a year marked by everyone being locked up at home, 103,293 reported cases of breaking and entering were still able to take place.

recent study by Spanish insurance company UNESPA sheds some light on how burglars have been able to get around Covid-19 restrictions, and as result certain areas have seen an increase in burglaries.

The main conclusion they’ve drawn is that burglars – ladrones in Spanish – have taken their illicit business to the coast, especially Spain’s Mediterranean regions.

READ MORE: The places in Spain where burglaries have gone up during the pandemic

But regardless of where burglaries are happening more often in Spain, criminals all over the country find ways to exploit situations when homeowners let their guard down. 

The following is a list of tips from Spain’s Civil Guard police force and home security experts which will help you to prevent your home in Spain from being burgled.  

1. Don’t overshare on social media

Do not post pictures or messages relating to your holidays or time spent away from home until you are back home. A photo or a comment can contain essential information that burglars can use.

2. Check everything before you lock up

Give your home one last check before you head off. It may seem obvious but that means making sure doors and windows are properly closed and locked and that the water supply is turned off. 

3. Change the lock

If you’ve moved in to your apartment or house fairly recently, you may not have considered that the previous tenants or owners may still have keys to get in. Even if you know them personally, there is no way of knowing if they gave a key to a family member, friend or contact (even a builder or contractor if it’s a new build) who may be able to enter your home.  

It may be worth installing a reinforced or double lock system to put your mind at rest. 

4. No extra keys lying around 

Never leave an extra set of keys hidden in your letter box, under a flower pot, inside the electricity meter box, burglars will be quick to check these common hiding places.  

5. Watch out for this increasingly used trick by burglars in Spain

Spanish national police warned the public in early 2020 to keep their eyes peeled for this crafty trick being used by burglars in Spain. 

They place a small piece of plastic or a thread on the door in a position where it would fall to the ground if the door was opened. 

That way when they return after a few days, they’ll know if the door has been opened. In the event that it hasn’t they are far more likely to attempt to break in. 

Marbella is one of the places with most burglaries in Spain according to police complaints. Photo: Pixabay

6. Don’t fall for these new scams either

Burglars have become even more crafty as a result of the pandemic and lockdown, coming up with new ways to burgle or rob while everyone is confined to their homes. 

There are reports of scammers calling around under the pretence that they offer free door-to-door coronavirus tests or home disinfection, preying particularly on the elderly to rob them once they get inside. 

The burglars turn up dressed like medical personnel and offer up free face masks to dupe their vulnerable victims. A similar trick is being used by fake delivery services, who call around until they find the right victim, only to rob them once they’re inside the premises. 

Remember: there are currently no free door-to-door coronavirus tests and supermarkets will not call you to offer a delivery service unless you request it. 

7. Install extra security

This can help keep an eye out for the burglar technique mentioned above. Whether you enlist the help of a professional or you install it yourself, having security cameras which allow you to monitor what’s going on in your home while you’re away is very useful.

Prices range from €600 to €5,000 for a full surveillance kit. Bear in mind that there are laws relating to whether you’re allowed to film people on private or public property, and that you will have to put up a sign which states that there are security cameras. 

An alarm system to accompany will offer even more protection.

8. Make it seem like you’re still there 

A common mistake people make when they leave their homes is to overlook obvious signs that their property is uninhabited: blinds always shut, post box full to the brim, lights always off etc

So set a timer on some of the lights (and on the TV or radio if possible), if you live close by check on the property regularly and pick up the post. If you’re nowhere near the property, asking a neighbour or a friend to keep an eye out or to stop by on a regular basis is a sensible choice.

9. Beware of building works 

If you’re refurbishing your home and a scaffolding has been installed or there is another scenario which makes it easier to access the inside of your home, pay special attention. 

If you’re not staying at the property while the building works take place and it happens to be in a complex, a security guard or trusted neighbour should accompany any workers while they’re there. 

10. Pay attention to the garage doors

Burglars sometimes get into buildings through the communal garages that have doors on a timer, so check nobody creeps in before the doors close, for your sake and your neighbours’. 

11. Cooperate with neighbours

Whether it’s a case of befriending the family next door so you can ask them to keep an eye out while you’re away, or setting up a neighbourhood watch group on WhatsApp if there have been break-ins in your area in the past, close collaboration between community members is essential to catch burglars. 

If you do suffer a burglary in Spain, call the police on 091 if you’re in a city. If you live in a town or city where there is no National Police, call the Civil Guard on 062. Alternatively, you can also call Spain’s emergency number 112.

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CRIME

Spain investigates mysterious ‘needle spiking’ attacks on women in nightclubs

Spanish police are investigating a string of cases of women being injected with possibly spiked syringes in crowded clubs, following similar incidents in Britain and France. However, no chemical trace has been found yet in the victims.

Spain investigates mysterious 'needle spiking' attacks on women in nightclubs

The worrying trend of ‘needle spiking’ (pinchazos in Spanish) in bars and nightclubs that has been seen across Europe in recent weeks has reached Spain.

The strange attacks, the first of which reportedly happened in October 2021 in the Scottish city of Dundee, can cause sudden dizziness, memory loss and then, usually the morning after, bruises caused by what experts believe are needle pricks.

In Spain, the first reports of these needle spiking attacks have been in the Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalusia, Aragon and Cantabria.

The Ertzaintza (Basque police) are investigating as many as a dozen neede spikings in bars and restaurants across the northern region in the last two weeks alone, while national police in Andalusia are investigating two women claiming to have been victims of ‘chemical submission’ due to needle spiking in a nightclub in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz.

Catalonia and the Basque Country are the regions where the largest number of cases have been reported so far, and the complaints are familiar: young women who feel a prick or sharp pain while dancing or waiting at the bar in a cramped environment, and then feel dizzy and disorientated and have a physical injection mark on their body.

Often the needle pricks are accompanied by memory loss.

Social panic

Worrying though the attacks are, it must be noted that scientists have only detected one case in Spain (in the northern region of Asturias) where the victim’s body was found to have a toxic substance present.

The victim in question was a minor, so it is unclear if they were in a bar or nightclub at the time. The 13-year-old girl reported a sharp pain in her leg, and later tested positive for liquid ecstasy after analysis at the Cabueñes Hospital.

But this seems to be the exception.

Physical needle pricks without any chemical or toxic traces have been the case in almost every other case across Europe.

By January 2022, in Britain there had already been already 1,300 complaints about needle attacks. Of these, zero cases were confirmed with chemical evidence.

In France, of 800 or so reported needle spiking cases, not a single chemical trace was found in any of the victims tests.

In the medical analysis of Spanish victims, according to police sources, no traces of toxic substances have been found besides the single case in Dijon.

Mireia Ventura, head of analysis at Energy Control, said in the Spanish press this week that “we do not deny that there are aggressions with something sharp, but this story that they [the victims] are inoculated drugs with a syringe in nightclubs sounds fanciful to us, there are several pieces that do not fit in.”

Not a single syringe has been found on any premises nor have any culprits been identified.

None of the dozens of recent victims in Spain have tested positive for toxic substances in medical tests, nor have they suffered sexual assault, harassment or theft.

As sociologist Robert Bartholomew wrote in ‘Psychology Today’, “anyone who believes she was drugged while on the go must be taken seriously and her claims thoroughly investigated. However, a recent wave of news involving syringes has all the characteristics of a social panic.”

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