Winter is coming … and the annual crimewave with it

Updated 30 November: I made this post, as I do annually, on 1 November, and am updating today to remind everyone that the problem still exists. I’ve just found out about an incident in Palm Mar where an elderly local man has been greatly distressed by having a chain snatched from around his neck while walking in the street in broad daylight. Thieves ran off, of course, but it’s worth reminding people to be on their guard, particularly the elderly who are routinely targeted.

Original post 1 November: It’s that time of year again, where pickpockets and muggers follow the elderly and the winter sun seekers to Tenerife. Each year, the main tourist areas in the south become territory for these predators, and the National Police in Playa de las Américas always increase their presence and activity, arresting individuals and targeting the organized crime that is sometimes the cause of crimewaves. It’s not just tourists at risk, though, with residents here also vulnerable to opportunist crimes.

Obviously the police must be informed – see HERE – but they can only do so much. There is no substitute for self protection, and police say that holidaymakers and residents alike should be on guard everywhere, but particularly at the beach, in supermarkets, in bus queues, and hotels. It’s also a good idea to wear crossover bags or bumbags if out walking rather than shoulder bags. And put jewellery out of sight, or leave it in a safe if out just for a hike. Be on guard, and stay safe.

Above all, remember that Tenerife is not a crime “hotspot” but obviously we’re a holiday island and people come here in a relaxed manner, and sadly the elderly can inevitably seem like targets, easy pickings for casual or even organized thieves. Any visitors whether affected by crime or not can download apps for their smartphones to report incidents: 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), and they will 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 – and that’s guaranteed multiple languages, at least five, spoken fluently, and with access to further languages too if needed.

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 THIS one 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.


  1. But also beware of leaving anything whatsoever in cars, a friend was leading a birdwatching tour on the island recently, their minibus was broken into and cameras and other birdwatching equipment taken. They were only 30m away at the time! This is the first time it has happened to him and he’s led lots of tours like this in Spain and Morocco for 10 years plus. It’s put him off going back to Tenerife sadly.

  2. The thought of carrying any sort of sprays horrifies me, I have never done this in my life. Its a very sad situation. We have owned our apartment in Tenerife since 1984 and never felt unsafe in Tenerife. Now, I am looking over my shoulder for possible thieves. People will be put off coming to Tenerife if the authorities don’t do something about improving police presence and start using cameras. Even flying to Tenerife can be a nightmare if there are large unruly groups travelling on the plane.

  3. My friends used the Madrid phone number & got a recorded message in Spanish & then it flashed up on their phone that that number was for emergencies only. He has had his watch taken off him in the street & this was no help at all.

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