Q: We are visiting Barcelona for Easter and will be driving from France. I have read all the safety tips, and we are world travellers, so do everything to minimise the chance of mugging, theft, etc. However, I read the reports on car tyres being slashed and as we have a French number plate, is there any advice as to what to do if this happens? We would have no options but to pull over and change the tyre, you can't block the traffic, so what do you do?
A: I think the fact that you are aware of what can happen is a big step forward to use your own common sense in the situation. I am careful to advise you specifically what to do because I am not an expert in this field. You would need to make your own decisions on the day. However, there are some common-sense tips that you can be aware of in a situation like this. At the end of the day however you need to use your own common sense and judgement.
Tourists appear to be the main targets for this type of car crime, although it can happen to anyone. Basically, a motorcyclist will slash your tyres when you stop your car at the lights. Then later down the road will "help" you and it is here they make off with your belongings that are in the car. See our link to an in-depth article below about this type of car crime. Tourists are the main targets because they are a disorientated and have all their belongings and valuables in one place. Therefore the first thing is to try as best you can not to be noticed as a tourist.
You can help avoid attracting attention by making sure your valuables are locked away safely out of sight in the boot. Here are a few more safety tips.
1. The most important thing of all is to remain calm and clear-minded. You need to think not only of your safety but also the safety of the drivers around you. Therefore if you have a puncture, make sure to park up in a position that you are safe to do so. It is easy to panic in this type of situation, and that can lead to other potentially dangerous situations with other traffic around you. Your primary goal is maintaining your personal safety and that of the other drivers around you. Stay in your car if you suspect your tyres have been deliberately slashed.
2. Keep your car windows rolled up and your doors locked at all times.
3. Keep maps out of sight whenever you can.
4. Keep valuables like purses, cameras, laptops and handbags out of sight. Make sure they are out of view to passing motorists or motorcyclists.
5. The best place to keep suitcases is locked up in the boot.
6. Take a mobile phone with you should you need to make an emergency call. If you see a motorcyclist or another car is coming over to try and help you right after a puncture, it could well be a thief. In this case, call the emergency services number in Spain which is 112.
If you cannot speak Spanish or the person cannot speak English then call the English speaking police telephone number: +34 90 210 2112 and tell them your position.
7. If you see a motorcyclist coming over to help you. Wind up your windows, lock your doors and take out your mobile phone and call the police. Do not accept their invitations to help you. Stay in your car and keep the doors locked.
8. If it is safe to do so, and it would not cause danger or serious distraction to other drivers, sound your horn to attract attention from people around. Be careful how you do this, however, because it can be dangerous to other drivers if you do this on a busy road. The place to do this is if you are in a quiet area and only if it is safe to do so. What you are aiming to do is attract attention and show that you know what their game plan is.
9. Put on your hazard warning lights. If a police car passes they will see this and possibly come over to help you.
10. If your car is not in too bad a shape try and make it to a garage to ask for help.
11. If it is safe to do so, you can change the tyre. To do so make sure your boot and car doors are locked (except the driver's door which you can jump into quickly if you need to). Have your hand-break on and also put the car into first gear. This will prevent the car wheels spinning when you attempt to change the tyre.
You would need to make your own decisions on the day. The thieves slashing car tyres are playing on the fact that you do not know what is happening. However, armed with this information, you do know what they are up to. Think about safeguarding your personal safety at all times. Also, pay attention to the safety of other drivers. Remain calm, and you will be OK.
For more information on car crime in Barcelona please see the link below.
Many site visitors have asked us how they can lodge a formal complaint about crime in Barcelona to the Mayor. If you have been subject to a crime in Barcelona and wish to send through your experience to the Mayor, then the contact page for the Mayor of Barcelona can be found on the following link. The Major of Barcelona has the power to make changes in the city so please make sure to send your feedback to him.