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Kovaks Street Scam Forums • View topic - Streetwise folks fall for the Tire Pinch

Streetwise folks fall for the Tire Pinch

Scammed in Barcelona? Share your stories here.

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Streetwise folks fall for the Tire Pinch

Postby KOVAKS on Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:36 am

Contributed by Lesley on May 2006:

This is an account of the incident which happened to us in May 2006. I hope that by publishing this and making it common knowledge it prevents the same thing happening to other tourists. If we had known this sort of thing went on then we would have behaved completely differently.

My husband and I travelled by car from the south of France to Barcelona. As we arrived in Barcelona we had a particularly unpleasant experience which I would not wish on others. Whilst driving into the centre, in a built up, smart, residential area we heard a terrible noise. When we pulled into the side of the road to investigate we found that we had a very flat tyre. A young man pulled up on the pavement beside us on a motor scooter. He motioned away up the street and talked of "mechanico". When we said we didn't understand he pulled away. Whilst my husband started to change the tyre I realised that someone had removed my handbag and my husband's bag from the front and rear seats of the car. We were stood at the side of the car the whole time and did not hear two doors being opened and closed properly. To do this on our car is very difficult as the doors take some closing- but they obviously practice! When we reported this to the police they said that they had 4/5 reports each day at that police station alone - usually targeting British, French or hire cars because they are obviously holidaymakers. They follow visiting cars through the traffic and at traffic lights the chap on the scooter checks what is visible as well as presuming that most women keep their handbags on the floor at their feet when they are passengers in cars. When they decide on a target the man on the scooter has a metal spike fitted to his shoe. He then pulls close to the car whilst at traffic lights and punctures the tyre with the spike. He and the robbers' car then follow the victims waiting for the flat tyre to be noticed. The police told us that this is replacing pickpocketing because so many people use money belts etc. The gangs usually comprise Spanish and Rumanian men. The police said they target the rear tyres opposite the driver's door, varying it according to the country of origin. People usually pull in with the problem tyre next to the pavement to enable them to change it and this then leaves the passenger side unattended.

In our case it caused us very serious problems as they took our passports, cash and credit cards. It resulted in us having to return to the UK early.

We thought that we were quite "street-wise" and we were prepared with money belts etc, but of course because we hadn't even got out of the car then we hadn't put them on. Whilst we were in the British Consulate on Monday morning arranging for replacement passports there were other British visitors who had had the same experience.
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