Hard times coming: police say trust no-one as cleaner and two young men are arrested for stealing from 99-year-old woman

Updated 23 November: Times are getting very difficult for some, and the latest warning comes from the police after three people with previous form are under arrest for stealing from a 99-year-old woman in the metropolitan area (La Laguna-Santa Cruz). Police say that two of the detainees are in their 20s and the third is the 46-year-old mother of one of them who had been a cleaner in the old woman’s house. The total stolen amounted to around €15,000, of which some €6,000 has been recovered. Police say that the cleaner had the woman’s confidence, and while it’s obvious that this doesn’t mean all cleaners should be distrusted, it’s important to be aware that people are struggling and make wrong choices in their efforts to stay afloat. Police say be careful, be wary, and trust no-one. Sad advice for sad times.   

Updated 8 October: I’ve posted below warnings from the police about increased burglaries and thefts during the economic hardship, now worsening even more, caused by the covid19 pandemic. Now, Adeje Ayuntamiento has taken action to tell the public to be very careful if anyone calls claiming to be from the council. Seemingly businesses have been targeted with offers of assistance in exchange for a fee, and the council says that they never charge a fee for municipal projects. Obviously this is not just a case of a scam but of impersonation of official representatives, and so the council says that anyone in any doubt whatsoever about someone claiming to be from the council should call the Policía Local (922 75 62 30) or get in touch with the council by email to empresas@adeje.es. This is clearly not just something that businesses should be cautious about. We all need to be on our guard to protect our personal security as times are getting very hard indeed.

Updated 19 August: In the two months since I made the original post below things have hardly improved. Indeed for some they have got worse and with little clear end in sight, sadly. Tourism chief Jorge Marichal is asking to appear in the Canarian Parliament to put the plight of the tourism industry to the Government – if something doesn’t change, he says, and we lose this winter’s season, we will have 40% unemployment: this afternoon he has met Canarian President Ángel Torres personally to convey the worries of the sector.

Quite what the Government can do when one of the main problems, as Marichal himself acknowleges, is the UK Government’s inclusion of the Canaries in its no-fly list along with the rest of Spain, and its similar requirement that those returning from the islands should quarantine. Others have said, however, that the increasing cases here show the UK Government’s stance was correct. and that it is precisely people not staying put that is spreading the problem. And yet cases are openly recognized as being fuelled by residents, both the under 40s and family get-togethers, not tourists.   

The argument will no doubt rage, and meanwhile our case numbers continue to increase … along with all the associated economic and social hardship that we could see coming. The National Police are constantly issuing advice on personal security, and clearly have an eye to the prevention of burglaries in a time of growing desperation. They have produced this poster as a checklist, and I imagine there’ll be quite a bit more of the same thing over coming weeks. (click the image to see full size)

Original post 19 June: I really do not want to be posting this but it is based on fact and real cases. Over the past two weeks I am now personally aware of three cases of robbery, and anecdotally aware of two others, where people have been put at risk because of the desperation of those with no resources. I won’t go into details for obvious reasons but all five are in the south, all happened in public places (and not just the ones you might instantly imagine), and in broad daylight.

Many people, seemingly especially the younger ones, appear to have the idea that the Government is deliberately preventing them from working normally just to be obstructive, apparently unaware of the fact that restrictions are for public health safety reasons. This doesn’t alter the basic fact, however, that their need is severe. Some have lost their jobs entirely, others were working hand to mouth anyway and had no firm economic basis to their life here, others are still awaiting temporary redundancy payments, and many were so completely under the radar that they have nowhere official to turn to for help. All are in desperate need.

Obviously the overwhelming majority of those in severe need are not violent thieves! And some who are violent thieves are anything but desperate. But the economic situation generated by the covid19 crisis has caused a major social shock, and some people are in such straits that they are doing all they can conceive of as an immediate solution to help themselves. Many times these robberies are not violent muggings, but they still cause their victims terrible psychological damage. And sometimes they are actually violent.

All we can do right now, apart from helping charities with donations they might need to pass on help where they can, is take the most extreme personal precautions to protect ourselves. Don’t carry more stuff than you need to, for example, whether it’s a wallet packed with UK bank cards, an original passport, an irreplacable photo of great sentimental value in a diary or purse pocket …  just take the basics, only what you need. And be aware of your immediate personal space and who is in it. I repeat that I don’t want to be posting this, but over the past fortnight this has pushed itself to the front of the queue for “social concern” posts. 


  1. Yes we did have a lot of armed police around but they were very polite and helpful (as we found) and we all felt quite safe to be out – when it was necessary. It was thanks to them and others doing such essential jobs that we’ve come out of this whole mess relatively unscathed. Don’t worry Bob just set your Jan on any muggers – knees permitting!!!! (I know this couple very well) If you have any sense get back out here sooner rather than later – it’s getting worse in the UK because of the hap hazard manner in which they are dealing with lock down and release from it.

  2. Sorry I meant the municipality of Santiago del Teide is pretty small but somehow they managed to have enough police to have groups on every road junction around us in Puerto Santiago and a helicopter flying over as well and cars with loud hailers. It was like something out of a disaster movie with lots of extras!

    Blue and white car with lights over the top. Dressed in black with yellow high vis jackets over the top, Peaked black caps and black masks over their faces and armed. Very scary.

  3. They were all over Puerto Santiago as well, which isn’t a very big province. I have no idea where they found the numbers from. I rarely saw them before that despite living only a few hundred yards from the police station.

    Did they come from the mainland?

    1. Author

      We have had much supplementary help here, including the army. Have a look HERE though, because Puerto Santiago is not a province, not even a municipality (council area). It is a settlement in the municipality of Santiago del Teide. The Canaries has two provinces: the western half (Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma & El Hierro) which is the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and the eastern half (Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote & La Graciosa) which is the province of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The police station you’re talking about is Policia Local – council employed, see HERE for the different forces.

  4. We were in Los Cristianos when the lockdown first occurred. The police were patrolling everywhere. You stepped out of the apartment and they asked where you were going. They stopped you and checked shopping bags to see what you had bought were essential supplies. So where are the police now to protect the few people that are there? People won’t be in a hurry to return there for a holiday if muggings etc are commonplace!

  5. Good afternoon. Reading through your advice I came upon the phrase “Original passport”.
    Is there any “official take” on the carrying of passports here on the islands? Are the Policía reasonably expected to accept an electronic copy (clear photo on a phone) as proof of identity?
    The only time we came into contact officially with them was about a month ago and, whilst they accepted out copy residencia, we actually had our passports with us at the time so we’re not in a position to find out.

  6. Thanks Janet definitely noticed this. And more. X Seany.

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