The main message is to prevent your credit cards being stolen in Spain in the first place. Take precautions, be vigilant and apply some common sense measures and it is unlikely that you will have your property stolen. However, theft can be a theft problem in Spain. The likelihood can be avoided but it can’t be removed.
Any loss is upsetting but what can cause one of the greatest difficulties and the most inconvenience is when your credit cards have gone too. First of all check that your purse and credit cards really are missing ( sometimes we just forget where we put them) and then take stock. Try following these steps:
- make a mental list of everything you can think of that was in your bag/ purse – which could cause the greatest and most immediate loss?
- get yourself to a telephone or use your mobile if you still have one and call any credit card companies that you need to – always try to make sure that you have a list with emergency numbers kept somewhere other than your bag.
- if your mobile has gone too – call your line provider and inform them – a thief can run up some pretty big bills very quickly
- think – have they got house or car keys along with any of your details? If so, you will need to get your locks changed
- take any other immediate steps to make sure the thieves can’t rob you further and that any property remaining is secure
- write down all the details of the crime including:
- exactly where it happened (street names etc)
- what time it was
- what happened before/ what you did afterwards
- the property you have lost with a brief description where possible
- you will need to report the crime to both the insurance company and make a denuncia at the police station. When making your denuncia you will need to take a translator with you if you don’t speak fluent Spanish
What’s most important is that you act. Swift cancellation and notification can save you a lot of money in the long run. You might be lucky and have your possessions returned but you can’t take the risk. It is worthwhile taking a few precautions ‘just in case’ too:
- consider using a card protection company – you will have one number that you can call and they maintain a list of all your cards and will do the cancelling for you. Their annual fee also includes some insurance which can help replace some stolen items and the cost of getting your locks changed
- make sure that you keep contact details for your cards somewhere safe so that you can immediately retrieve them – in a state of semi-panic you will not be able to find what you need
As for keeping bags and possessions safe, there is no guarantee no matter how careful you are. However, here are our top ten tips:
- if you are sat down somewhere outside make sure you keep possessions close to you and perhaps put a handbag strap between your feet or somewhere you maintain contact with it
- don’t take more out with you than you need – if you can split money and cards – it’s half the panic
- be very careful about someone distracting you – if someone comes up to you in a supermarket or on the street and asks you a question or informs you of something keep your handbag in view.
- it is best not to drive with your handbag displayed on a car seat. Keep it out of sight either in the boot or under the seat.
- do not leave your handbag close to a window at home – some thieves are adept at playing ‘hook-a-handbag’
- do not take anything valuable with you to the beach – it is very difficult to keep tabs on your possessions when you are sunbathing and thieves know this
- be vigilant and alert and keep an eye on your surroundings – thieves soon pick up those that have their wits about them and those who are perhaps ‘away with the fairies’ or otherwise distracted
- be cautious at any venue that is particularly busy, where people might legitimately brush up against you or where you might need to take your purse or wallet out. The markets are a particular haven for thieves.
- if you do need to carry an expensive item around with you such as a camera make sure that it is insured and that you have proof of its purchase price, a box or even a photo of it (taken with someone else’s camera of course!)
- apply these common sense tips at all times – it’s when you let your guard down, have that extra drink or it hasn’t happened to you for a while that the inevitable happens
Remember, possessions can be replaced. Don’t take unnecessary risks or make yourself vulnerable trying to retrieve your possessions.
If it does happen to you, and it happens to the best of us, try not to take it too personally. It is upsetting but if you follow these suggestions, take precautions and don’t panic, you’ll have lots of glorious days ahead of you in Spain.