Is it safe in Torrevieja? How to take care of your safety

In May 2022, the case of an international shakedown involving as many as 43 people reached its finale. 250 officers, using modern specialised drone technology, raided more than 30 flats in Murcia and Alicante. As it turned out, their leader had a villa in Torrevieja. The 43 people arrested were citizens of the UK, Ireland, Spain, Colombia, Morocco and Peru(source). This raises questions about security in Torrevieja.

Survey on safety in Torrevieja

Survey on safety in Torrevieja, source:

In a special survey on safety in Torrevieja, its residents responded that they feel relatively safe in the city. Although it was noted that the amount of petty crime is returning, you will not experience violence here on an ethnic or national level.

Read more: nationalities in Torrevieja

It was noted that among the potential risks here you may have to deal with acts of vandalism on properties, as well as corruption.

The most popular crimes in Torrevieja, however, are the most common in the world. Theft and fraud are no surprise not only in Spain. Below we give you a list of the most popular crimes not only in Torrevieja, but across Spain, and tips on how to protect yourself from them.

Thefts and pickpockets in Torrevieja

You can easily avoid becoming a victim of street crime by simply not making yourself look like a tourist.

Spaniards dress smartly, so wearing shorts anywhere than the beach will immediately make locals aware that you are a tourist – avoid it.

Excessive jewellery, expensive cameras and obvious displays of wealth will also make you attract criminals. Try to dress like the locals, in casual, comfortable attire.

Here are some simple ways to show that you are alert to the threat of pickpockets, which is often enough to deter them:

  • Carry the bag in front of you, close to your body, when on public transport or in crowded places
  • Keep your wallet in your front pocket and occasionally comb through it with your hand to make sure it’s still there
  • Never put down bags or luggage unless you can keep an eye on them.
  • Even if you are lost, remain confident.
  • Carry only what you need for the day to minimise potential losses. Keep your valuables separate, rather than throwing them all in your backpack like a neatly wrapped gift for potential thieves.

Tip: The emergency number to call in Spain is 112.

The most common scams in Spain

Familiarise yourself with the typical tactics and techniques of fraudsters you may encounter.

  • Women offering flowers either want to extort a few euros or pocket money from you, even when you pretend not to pay attention.
  • If someone offers to clean the bird poo off your back, walk away. While they are “helping” to clean up the mess, they will try to pickpocket you
  • The squeeze in underground doors, escalators and bus lines is used to keep you immobile and distracted long enough to reach for your bag.
  • Beware of fake undercover police officers who, with a fake ID, try to intimidate or confuse travellers with some bogus stories. They will ask for your documents and try to get you to hand over your wallet for “verification”.

If you come across fake police officers:

  • Don’t be too nervous because it is known that they may resort to violence
  • Politely ask them to show their ID again, and if they persist, ask them to go to the nearest police station before handing over anything
  • Never get into a car with them.

Card skimming in Torrevieja

Card skimming devices are becoming common in Spain, at ATMs and in some rogue shops and cafes. ATM skimming devices are fairly easy to detect – if you just look for them and are usually attached to the top of the original card slot, protruding awkwardly from the machine.

Card reading techniques detected at Tesco, source: Flickr

When handing over your cards to pay for a meal or goods, don’t let them out of your sight. It only takes a second for someone dishonest to collect all your card details.

Tip – keep a separate account for paying during your stay in Torrevieja.

Road crime in Spain

In Spain, be aware that there are gangs trying to cheat tourists who occasionally target rental cars or cars with foreign plates, especially those towing caravans.

Their approach is subtle. They will try to persuade you to stop by pointing out that something is wrong with your car or that you have damaged their vehicle. When you stop to have a look, they will either forcefully rob you or sneak away with anything they can grab while you are busy looking under the bonnet. Some of these troublemakers will wait at rest stops, puncturing your tyres and following their victims down the road until they stop to change them.

If possible, avoid stopping on isolated stretches of road in Spain, especially at night. The Malaga airport exits and surrounding motorways are known targets for these gangs, as well as the AP7 motorway between Barcelona and the French border.

Antisocial behaviour in Spain

Hostility towards travellers due to over-tourism is a growing problem across Europe. In 2011, Barcelona city council had to put up posters calling for an end to anti-social behaviour. Written in English and French, the campaign was aimed at tourists, urging them not to urinate in public places, buy from street vendors, drink in public or obtain sexual services.

By being more careful, you can help solve the problem for future visitors and residents.

Smoking is not permitted in enclosed public areas.

Terrorism in Spain

The Basque separatist group ETA, founded in 1959, declared a permanent ceasefire in its terrorist campaign for an independent Basque Country in January 2011 and was formally disbanded in 2018, marking the end of violence that left more than 800 people dead.

The Spanish government remains distrustful of the separatist group, with some politicians claiming that ETA’s influence is still alive in northern areas of Spain.

ETA has primarily used targeted attacks against individuals or organisations rather than civilians. However, tourists have been caught up in attacks in the past, and even remote or false attacks have caused serious delays and disruptions to travel plans.

Although the threat of interprovincial violence is reduced, Spain remains at risk of terrorist attacks.

The 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed 192 people, were claimed by a group representing al-Qaeda. In 2008, police arrested 11 men who were allegedly planning to carry out a series of suicide attacks across Barcelona.

The best thing you can do is to keep up to date with government warnings and recommendations and follow the relevant advice.

Social unrest in Spain

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many European countries into chaos and it is unclear what the long-term effects will be. Spain has experienced periods of social unrest, and with unrest, riots and demonstrations are common.

Political unrest in the Catalan region has led to large demonstrations that often turn violent. Stay up to date by reading the local news.

In general, Spain is a safe country and there is very little danger for the careful traveller. Use common sense, keep up to date with local news and media and you will have a safe, enjoyable time in Spain.

Besides, it is worth reading the forums from which you will learn that sometimes it is the tourists who cause more danger than the locals. Torrevieja, as well as the rest of Spain, is a safe country and there is no need to worry over the top.

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