07 Aug Spain: Security Snapshot
We spent two weeks on the ground in Spain to check out their security posture. Coincidentally enough, we ran with some bulls, laid out on some beaches, and checked out Gaudi art and structures throughout Spain.
Spain is pretty secure but even we were targeted once, pulled over by law enforcement twice for no real reason, and reminded several times to keep our belongings like cameras and bags attached to our body.
Most reports suggest visits to Spain are trouble-free, but you should be alert to the existence of street crime, especially thieves using distraction techniques.
Thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports. We had two men try to distract us but when we didn’t get distracted they waived off.
Don’t carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.
Personal attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare but they do occur, and are often carried out by other tourists. Be alert to the possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs including GHB and liquid ecstasy.
There has been an increase in reports of burglaries in areas with holiday accommodation and residential areas in major cities. Make sure your accommodation has adequate security measures in place and lock all doors and windows at night or when you aren’t in.
You can’t go to Spain without relaxing at some cafés sipping outstanding cappuccinos and surfing the web. The WIFI (pronounced We-Fee) was very secure – not one “unlocked” or unsecure router noted. We logged on to countless routers and all were locked and never noticed any unlocked routers.
The passwords were also impressive, most of which were individually assigned and provided by the service staff. The passwords were complex and plenty of characters long. Not exactly convenient when you have to wait for the waiter to provide it, but worth it.
When driving, be wary of approaches by bogus police officers in plain clothes travelling in unmarked cars. If in doubt, you should talk through the car window and contact the Civil Guard on 062 or Police on 112. Ask them to confirm that the registration number of the vehicle corresponds to an official police vehicle.
We experienced several checkpoints along the tollway where all traffic was forced left and everyone had to take breathalyzers. Gee, what a novel concept. They also were checking for international drivers licenses. Visitors lacking them were stuck with a $133 ticket – a legal scam if you ask me – but bad economies drive stupidity.
Only use officially registered or licensed taxis. We recommend that you take more control of your travel and always rent a vehicle. Never allow yourself to be at the mercy of a taxi driver. Let’s face it, they are strangers. Plus, having your own car gives you the freedom to “go” when you must.
Driving is on the right, so no problem. Seat belts are required for all passengers in the front and back seats. No children under the age of 12 should be in the front seat and small children must be in an approved child safety seat in the back seat.
Talking on a mobile phone when driving is forbidden, even if you have pulled over to the side of the road.
Overall, Spain is very safe and beautiful with plenty of attractions. With that being said, play it safe, take time to research, plan and execute what you plan. Decrease your exposure to crowded areas and know the element of surprise is always lurking.