From car thieves to tire slashers, would-be criminals are eager to target foreign tourists driving in European cities. Here are tips for avoiding becoming another car crime statistic while on holiday this summer. 

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Imagine This…

You’ve visit Barcelona and you’ve just hired a car to tour the countryside. You haven’t even managed to get beyond city limits when you realize your rear right tire has been slashed!

After finding a safe place to pull off and inspect the damage, you decide to change the tire. You call the auto rental agency, then get to work changing that tire.

After unloading your luggage onto the side of the road so you can access the spare tire in the boot, a friendly good Samaritan shows up, offering to help you with the tire.

Then it’s time to put the bags back in the boot and be on your way… only you notice one of your bags is missing. While the “friendly” motorcyclist was distracting you with offers to help, his friend made off with one of your bags.

The whole setup was a scam – a typical sort of car crime that’s prevalent in Europe. Locals target foreigners driving cars. At a stop light, a motorcyclist or someone on a scooter slashes the rear right tire. Then, they have a friend waiting at the nearest good pulloff spot for the right moment to grab a bag and run off with it while the tourist talks with the good Samaritan who stops to help.

Car Crime Like This Happen Every Day

There’s a lot to learn before you hire a car and drive around Europe, especially if you plan on visiting the major cities. All it takes is half a minute of distraction and as in the case above, your luggage can disappear from right under your nose.

You’ve learned to be careful about other aspects of travel: now it’s time to learn some tips on driving safely in Europe.

Tips for Preventing Car Crime While on Holiday in Europe

If you’re driving, the first approach to safety is to have defensive mentality, just as you would when strolling about a foreign city. When you walk in unfamiliar territory, doesn’t your guard go up? Don’t you hide your valuables and keep them close to your person?

The same goes for drivers: don’t look the obvious tourist. Here’s how:

  1. don’t put your map on the dashboard where would-be thieves can see that you’re obviously a tourist
  2. stay alert when stopped at a light – check things out in your rear-view mirror
  3. keep your car doors locked at all times
  4. if you do have to stop to change a flat tire, lock your doors after you get out and lock the boot, too
  5. if your tire is slashed, consider driving until you find a police station
  6. if you are approached by a motorcyclist when stopped, be suspicious, alert, and cautious
  7. if you suspect something fishy, get back into your car and lock the doors
  8. if you are approached by police, be aware that imposters often post as police officers in order to steal your money or your bags
  9. even be careful at toll stations, where scammers can pull up beside you and make you think there’s something wrong with your tires, then steal your bag once you pull over to check things out
  10. keep your windows rolled up
  11. lock away your valuables safely and out of sight
  12. don’t leave things like laptops in view for other motorists to see
  13. be aware of the police procedures before you travel: in some countries, police officers are allowed to charge traffic fines on the spot, while in others you would have to appear at an office later on to pay your fee. Of course some bad cops try to charge traffic fines on the spot and then just pocket the money, so knowing protocol your holiday destination will help you make quick decisions should this happen to you while you’re driving in an foreign city.
  14. always carry some cash in case you do have to pay a police fine while driving. failure to pay may mean imprisonment in some cases!

Why Tourists Make Good Targets

Tourists often travel with their valuables all conveniently packed into one small bag. Passports, cameras, nice cell phones, and holiday cash all in one bag make for a nice haul of loot!

Tourists are also less apt to be aware of their surroundings. They’re often overwhelmed, tired, bewildered, or generally suffering from being in unfamiliar territory so they make easy targets.

Whatever your plans are this summer, rest assured that back here at home, you can count on Car & Truck Keys to keep you on the road. Call us any time for lockouts, broken keys, and more.