EXPATS are being forced to patrol their own streets after a series of violent muggings
The group of Brits have set up Street Angels, an online community group, following dozens of attacks in the Mar Menor town of Los Alcazares.
The Olive Press spoke exclusively with group founder, Paul Canfield, who explained, “I was attacked only a few years ago, so I’ve been very vigilant since.”
The 51-year-old continued, “But holiday-makers, the elderly and the vulnerable may not have that awareness.”
“Victims need to know how and where to report these attacks, and they need support,” the builder said.
Since its launch last week, the group had 500 followers overnight, and currently has over 1000 concerned fellow expats showing support.
Using the group’s momentum, Canfield wants to raise awareness, organise volunteer street patrols and promote integration with the overstretched police and other authorities.
He intends reaching out to 30 local translators that are willing to give their services for one night a month, to help victims when they report attacks to the police.
The Olive Press met up with recent victims, all expressing their frustration at the whole situation.
Moira Fairbrace lives in Los Alcazares and was walking with a group of friends when they were attacked.
“Although we reported in to the Police, nothing was done”, the 68-year-old admitted.
She says, “The bruising will heal, but the mental trauma will take longer.”
Well-known local author, Jacqueline Carpenter, was violently attacked outside the 525 Hotel on November 30.
“He threw me to the floor, jumped on top of me and wrestled my bag away, all whilst my partner was trying to get him off.”
Patricia Miller was attacked on Sunday night, by a thug on a bike who attacked her from behind, robbing her of her handbag.
Lorraine Wells was targeted and robbed of her purse as she was in her mobility scooter.
Husband Gerald told us, “It was reported, but we had no feedback and no support.”
Jill and Peter Francis were also attacked from behind and robbed back in October.
Jill tells us, “My bag-strap was cut so he had a knife which is scary, but I was also pushed to ground and sustained broken wrist which needed an operation to put in a metal plate.
She continued, “This is not just pickpocketing, these thugs are dangerous and pick on the vulnerable – my worry is that one day they will go too far and kill someone.”
Lesley Mort, a resident in LA for 16 years, also mentioned the vulnerability of targeted victims.
“Elderly and infirm people are being picked out late at night because they’re relaxed and have their guard down,” noticed Lesley.
Bob Ward of the Tipsy Thistle revealed that the local mayor had admitted in a business meeting that funding for police was at breaking point because of the gota fria clean-up.
Notably, just after The Olive Press met with the victims, a Spanish lady was reportedly robbed in broad daylight of €600 outside the local Banco Sabadell.
The Street Angels website creator, admitted, “You’re in danger no matter what age, sex or nationality you are – this is terrible.”
“We desperately need to work with police and authorities to combat this, and keep Los Alcazares a lovely safe place to visit.”
The Olive Press spoke exclusively with Pedro Jose Sanchez, the Deputy Mayor of Los Alcazares, who admitted he IS aware of the crimes and that two people have been arrested already.
He tells us that LA has been trying to get more Guardia Civil to join the Local Police for many years, but funding restricts this.
“The two floods this year have drained resources, but we also have less money coming from the government because so many people haven’t registered on the padron.”
Sanchez continued, “We are a victim of our own success because our population grows from 15,000 to 100,000 in the summer – and it’s difficult to keep up with the demand on services and policing.”
If you can help or want to join the Street Angels group, just go to https://www.facebook.com/streetangelsLA
WHAT TO DO
1. Be alert, be sensible. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid being on your own if you’re vulnerable. Don’t take too much money out with you.
2. Call 112, and speak clearly in English. If you need to report a crime, don’t go to the Police Station, call them. Ask for an English-speaking agent, one will be there for you. This also helps with recording crimes.
3. Register on the padron. If you’re a property owner or live in Spain permanently, register so that your town gets extra funding. The essential resources you use can’t be paid for if you don’t. It won’t mean you pay more tax.
4. Use what channels you can to support your community. Solidarity is key, so work with each other and authorities in voluntary groups and forums. Los Alcazares victims have the full support of their Town Hall.