The following message which I received today is a typical question this time of year.

I was wondering if you could help, i have noticed a marked increase in people discussing muggings, pick pocketing this week, and am presuming the culprits are starting to arrive for their winter season. Are you aware of any updated links from police which makes reporting crime easier for tourists, as we know, many of them don,t bother, just putting it down to experience, which doesn’t help with police recruitment. Information would also be useful on what you can legally carry to fend off an attack, mace spray, pepper spray, etc.

The first thing to say is that Tenerife is not a crime “hotspot” but obviously we’re a holiday island and people come here in a relaxed manner, some of them elderly, especially in the winter months, and they can inevitably seem like targets, easy pickings for casual or even organized thieves. The second thing to say is that the police themselves say that visitors and residents shouldn’t panic, that social media often makes things seem worse than they really are … but that the police’s job is not helped by victims using social media to denounce crimes rather than reporting them officially. Resources can only be allocated, and crimes can only be investigated, if the police know what has happened. Please see HERE for more information.

There are also apps for smartphones: please see HERE for details of the FRESS and AlertCops apps. Victims can also report a crime in English by phoning 902 102 112 (Madrid). They’ll be given a reference number to take to the police station (that bit is still unavoidable) where their denuncia will be waiting for them to sign along with paperwork to collect for any insurance claim. And of course, in an emergency, always ring 112 because the service is a multi-lingual one.

As to what one can use legally as self protection, the answer is anything that you can buy in a licensed shop. Everything which comes from an authorized source, such as the shop opposite the electrical store in El Camisón, will be legal, and the shops will be qualified to advise on the conditions and circumstance in which the various protective sprays, alarms, or equipment can be used.