Winter is coming … and the annual crimewave with it

Winter is coming … and the annual crimewave with it

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 and 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 affected by crime should also be aware of the recently inaugurated tourist police service – the first specific one in the Canaries – which is in Puerto Santiago (upstairs in the main police station not far from the new Mercadona). There is more information HERE

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 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. I heard the local police were on industrial action and just a skelton staffing, is that true.

  2. Author

    not to my knowledge … which local police are you talking about?

  3. interesting article Janet – is this more of a problem in the winter season than the summer?

  4. Author

    Yes, it’s a year-round problem but the winter is particularly so because of those who come to prey on our winter visitors, who are generally older than the normal visitor, and more infirm, and so a more inviting target.

  5. Can we hire a taser? Can’t bring them in luggage, so a taser hire outlet would thrive I think. I would carry one…shocking or what?!

  6. Author

    no … “electrical weapons” which include tasers, are not legal for the public here. My understanding, more generally, is that sprays are allowed for anyone over 18 provided it’s a personal defense spray as defined and authorised by the Spanish Government. Any shop that sells them over the counter is likely to be selling a spray that’s authorised. The law is HERE.

  7. Why is Tenerife operating with third world security systems. This sort of crime is impossible to deal with after the event as muggers and pickpockets rarely have evidence on them for more than a few minutes.

    It requires proactive monitoring using cameras and other surveillance techniques. These would show up when one of the hundreds of known criminals is in a hotspot and can be set up to automatically alert the authorities. So for instance if the gang targeting the Trypp hotel return after an incident the police can be alerted in real time. However it seems that there is no will to invest in safety and do many, many people are being robbed in Tenerife at all times of the day- in shops, on the promenade, at bus stops and walking home at night.

    Unfortunately the situation is not helped by the folk who make light of this issue and think they are immune. They must have brain cells missing coz even big boys have been robbed according to my info. Still they pretend that there is no such crime and hope it will go away and so the police are happy to carry on with the status quo.

  8. I take out a small c s Gas spray especially at night or at the markets etc! The police are quite happy for people to do this as I checked with them.
    I avoid areas which are unlit and if feel threatened when out walking I just keep spray in my hand.
    Pepper spray has the same affect which I think you can buy at the Chinese shops… better to be safe than sorry!

  9. East European gang now targeting ladies hairdressers.they run in ,scoop up handbags and run off.make sure your bag is secure while your hair is being done.

  10. Author

    The important thing is to buy self-protection sprays and the like from authorized shops, then the bearer cannot be found guilty of carrying an unauthorized or dangerous “weapon”. Anything bought from authorized shops such as the one in El Camisón with a link in the post above will be fine because they are licensed and only sell approved items.

  11. Pickpockets out and about in Alcalá today. I was walking with a friend behind my wife and friends husband when I felt uncomfortable at how close a couple were walking behind me. I stopped and checked my man bag and the zip on one compartment was open but nothing stolen. The couple walked up close behind my wife and friend and I saw a the woman’s hand reach out to my wife’s bag. I shouted at here to protect it and rushed forward to check that nothing had been stolen. Everything was intact. The strange thing was that the couple, who were in their twenties and dressed for the beach stopped as well. Maybe they thought they could do me again whilst I was distracted but I had my bag at the front of my body and my hand over the zips. It was a close thing and of course neither of us felt anything. Despite the need to carry ID etc I think I might carry a minimal amount of things in future.

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