Where there is mass tourism there will always be purveyors of controlled substances as the masses hope to self-medicate whilst on holiday. These drug gangs under pressure to cope with supply and demand, constant competition, the threat of arrest and lack of therapy end up shooting it out in the busy streets causing the inevitable, stray bullets to hit innocent tourists.
This isn’t a common occurrence but it does happen. Last month’s example in Benidorm of a Derry man and his girlfriend witnessed a mass brawl, which included the discharge of firearms, a stray bullet hit the man in the leg and hospitalised him – holiday over.
‘You’re more likely to see a fist fight between rival taxis firms or drunken Brits,’ according to one local man. Even though the police clear the streets regularly, like herpes it never fully goes away just lurks for a short time and then springs out unexpected. On the whole Spain’s tourist spots are safe destinations for travellers and tourists.
Violent crimes are uncommon but there is a massive den of thieves targeting, specifically, foreigners the old and the weak looking. Weak looking refers to those who walk around flashing their cash leaving their bags and personal belongings unsupervised and open.
With an estimated 82 million tourists visiting Spain every year that’s a lot of provocation for those who buy into the belief that the quickness of the hand deceives the eye, pickpockets, bag snatchers, con artists and the tic-tac-toe men are targeting their prey as soon as they arrive at the airport.
These gangs are foreigners themselves and travel to busy hot spots. Hotel lobbies, train and bus station and the most popular – people standing in queues, a favourite the supermarket, open handbag showing a fat purse.
Distraction tactics or misdirection
Criminals working in teams, one asks for directions drops their keys or coins even spilling something like a drink on the intended victim and offering to clean it up. Or what’s more despicable acting like a victim and asking for help. All this to allow their counterpart to steal from them their purse, cell phone, room key.
Bag snatching is very common, sat on a bus or train as soon as the doors open a kid, quick on his feet, would leap up grab your bag and he was gone out the doors and cross the platform. People watched as another lad with the speed of a Mumbai urban-macaques-monkey snatches your bag from the restaurant table then dived into a car or mounted the back of a revving motorbike.
Sexual assault does exist albeit statistically low compared to some countries. Authorities warn about date-rape drugs, which are widely available and used in certain late night bars and clubs. Drugs, including GHB and liquid ecstasy, are obtainable along with cocaine and marijuana.
Street harassment from touters has declined in recent years due to the demise of the blanket trip wars. A push by local police to rid the streets of timeshare street inviters offering scratch cards and promising a prize. Merchandise hawkers or sub-Saharan looky – looky men as they are commonly called still do the rounds along the seafront and in the evening bar touters – AKA props – clog up the seafront walkways.