The crime rate in Spain is no higher than anywhere else in the world and, with the exception of major cities, most places are unusually safe. The latest crime figures indicate that the UK is far worse off than Spain when it comes to crime - particularly violent crime.
Andalusia is a particularly safe place to be, particularly regarding violent crime. However, petty theft, such as bag snatching is commonplace, particularly in tourist resorts and big cities. Most of this can be avoided with a little forethought - carry valuables under your clothes if possible and watch for people who get unnecessarily close to you at airports, at stations, on trains or buses or on the street. Never leave baggage unattended and avoid crushes. Also be cautious with people who come up to offer or ask you something for no good reason. This could be a ploy to distract you, especially as many petty thieves work in gangs.
- Don't carry huge amounts of money with you if not essential
- Do not discuss your finances with anyone, especially strangers or in public places
- If you use a taxi, make sure it is a genuine, state managed taxi, clearly marked - agree on a price before you get in
- Never invite strangers into your home
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF PETTY THEFT
If you do lose anything valuable, the first step is go the nearest Local Police station (as opposed to the Guardia Civil or National Police). They will then complete a form, which you sign, stating the facts. This is a vital document if you are planning to claim on your insurance policy. The police will take your contact details in the event they locate the stolen items. If you lose your passport, you will need to contact your embassy or consulate for a replacement.
There are police stations in all cities and towns, where you can report incidents or ask for help. The national emergency telephone number for the Police is 091.
Apart from the Servicio de Vigiliancia Aduanera or the Policía Judicial, there are four other security bodies that you can contact:
- Guardia Civil : Their main civil duties are to control the traffic on the roads, urban patrol and the control of guns and explosives. This body is responsible to the Ministry of Defence and is also under military control. They can easily be recognised by their green uniforms.
- Policía Nacional : This is the security body responsible to the Ministry of the Interior. Their main responsibility is that of public safety, criminal investigation, narcotics, fraud, etc. They wear a dark blue uniform with a red and yellow badge of the Spanish flag.
- Policía Local : This is the organisation that operates within local areas and towns, their duties are mainly centred around road traffic and public disorder offences. Their uniform is very similar to that of the Policía Nacional, except without the red and yellow badge.
- Policía Autonómica : This a body dependent on the regional administration of Andalucía. It has less authority than the other bodies and is mainly concerned with the various legal aspects of the administration, its public buildings and the environment. These police wear the green and white badge of the Andalusian flag.
These are general definitions, as all four of the above bodies often operate together. Apart from these official bodies, there are also numerous security guards from private security companies, however their responsibilities are minimal and they are prohibited from carrying out police operations by law.
On the Costa del Sol, you have access to the European-wide emergency number: 112 . This toll-free number can be dialled in all kinds of emergencies, eg. security, health or other urgent matters. Spanish, English, French and German speaking personel operate this 24-hour-service line. We recommend calling 112 for any kind of emergency.