Robbed At The Tarragona Toll Booth

Discussion in 'Continental Touring' started by mondo, May 6, 2012.

  1. mondo

    mondo Read Only Funster

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    Yesterday a Belgian couple pulled onto the next pitch to me in Vinaros and looked very distressed, I asked if I could help and they asked if I could direct them to the Guardia Civil as they had been robbed. I sorted them out and helped them cancell their credit cards.

    The robbery unfolded as follows:-
    As they approached the toll booth with 3 cars in front of them, because they had a caravan they left a gap as they approached the toll booth, then a cheeky car pulled into the gap. They thought nothing of it other than cheeky B*stard who could not wait.
    However unknown to them a passenger had been dropped off from the car with a smoke bomb. Next 2 people got out of the car in front and were banging on the window pointing to smoke coming from the rear , between the car and the caravan. The couple got out to inspect and stop what appeared to be a fire, the thieves then took the ladies bag with passports,credit cards etc. By now the original 3 cars had gone through the toll booth leaving the thieves a free run to the booth and escape to freedom.

    Now this may seem partly irrelevant to us motorhomers, but we have had cheeky drivers pull in front of us at toll booths and other that being a bit p*ssed off thought nothing of it. A smoke bomb at the back of my motorhome would of had me grabbing the fire extinguisher and hot footing to the rear of the motorhome, especially as we were at a toll booth and would have felt safe. I might have had a different reaction if I was on a M-Way aire or ordinary road.

    I have been saved from being robbed by information posted on this forum and while I hope that non of my fellow forum members get in this situation, Still hopefully forewarned is fore armed.

    I have cut and pasted this from another site as I suppose it needs circulating round ALL the Motorhome Forums....Just shows the lengths these cheeky so and so's will actually go to.....



     
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  2. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    Quite incredible. These people are intelligent.

    But what puzzles me is getting through the barrier, did they have a transponder and could it be used to identify them ?
     
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  3. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    I tend to take stories such as these with a pinch of salt.

    There are quite a few things about this story the rings alarm bells for me...

    Firstly a car has 2 wing mirrors and a rear view mirror. didn't they see the bloke running towards the car (down the side of the caravan) with a smoking thing in his hands. Or did he get to the back of the car then try to light it?

    Secondly, There will have been loads of CCTV cameras around the area and these thieves don't like being watched.

    thirdly, These thieves tend to be cowards and will usually look to see who their victims are first. How did the guy doing the smoke bomb know that it was a nice couple in the car and not a large family of Gypsies who would beat the crap out of them?

    Fourth, They tend to want to perform their criminal acts out of view of others. Doing it at a busy (ish) toll booth where others "may" intervene doesn't sound quite right?

    Anyway, I could go on but I guess you realise I am sceptical about this event.

    I do appreciate your motives in advising us though.. Good Man :thumb:
     
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  4. chatter

    chatter Read Only Funster

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    Tarragona is a big toll booth station with 2 lots of toll booths for continuing on different roads on both directions but there is usually a police presence there - as they check lorries there as well
     
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  5. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Skeptical yes, but to counter the previous suppositions

    * why would this elderly couple invent such a story .. ?

    * there is more than one toll near Tarragona , and looking at this one I see no CCTV, it is an unmanned auto toll, and not busy .. of course that would depend on time of day..
    have a look.. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Tarragona,+Spain&hl=en&ll=41.109172,1.130278&spn=0.000365,0.000642&sll=52.024736,1.412742&sspn=0.026776,0.082226&oq=Tarragona&hnear=Tarragona,+Province+of+Tarragona,+Catalonia,+Spain&t=h&z=21&layer=c&cbll=41.109172,1.130278&panoid=MuxZtbiLiV15BNKNzgN2Vw&cbp=12,335.57,,0,0

    * the rear view behind a caravan is very restricted , very few caravans have line of sight through them and the wing mirrors don't show directly behind the van .. there is a huge blind spot area where a car could 'hide' and surprise the couple.. I've driven plenty to know that quite often a tail gater can go unnoticed until they suddenly appear to overtake..

    * who sits and watches the rear while waiting at a toll.. you're more likely to be watching the car in front.. or fiddling looking for change for the machine... so you will most likely have your wallet or handbag visible or nearby , a perfect time to make a 'snatch'

    * the gang will most likely have already observed the car / caravan earlier, maybe at a rest area or fuel station and know the couple are not going to put up a fight then followed at a discrete distance..

    So many things we don't know that it's impossible to say exactly what did or did not happen.. but irrespective, it's worth taking note and to be on your guard when stationary whether at a toll, traffic lights or wherever there is the likelihood of a snatch.. keep the doors locked ...
     
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  6. chatter

    chatter Read Only Funster

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    true Jim but that is not the tarragonna toll that one is for Salou and villa sec, the tarragona toll station is the one before that and has a lot more booths on either side possibly 10
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  7. ourcampersbeentrashed

    ourcampersbeentrashed Funster

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    We thought that most major toll booths are videod or have surveillance

    We do hope they catch the buggers
     
  8. chatter

    chatter Read Only Funster

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    I do agree though that you should always be aware of your surroundings and any possible danger.
     
  9. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    *I didn't say the elderly couple invented the story, I am saying it is possible someone made the story up about the elderly couple..

    *Don't know which toll booth can't possibly comment on this.

    * The story says someone was dropped off behind the caravan. Ok this may have been hidden. But when they started walking down the side of the caravan those large extended mirrors on the side would have picked him up and the rear view mirror would have shown him as he ducked down to sling the smoke bomb.

    two people getting out of the car in front and walking towards you would be intimidating at the best of times... Smells funny also. I would guess a sensible older couple would lock both doors. And if one must get out the old boy would have told his wife to stay put....

    I do watch the rear view mirror at tolls as I am always worried that someone will ram me from behind the speed the go... I may be an exception to this.

    I am not saying the story is not true.... Ok I am kind of saying that I suspect it is not true....

    There are too many things that have to go right for this scenario to be sucessful. They would I guess have to do it loads of times for it to have worked right even once. If it has been done loads of times how come we have had only one report of it being attempted/succeeded.

    I don't know it just smells like a standard internet hoax to me...

    You are correct on your advice at the end of your post though... Always be aware of the possibilities and be safe....:thumb:
     
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  10. Drew

    Drew Funster

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    Not wishing to get into the debate about the validity of this particular incident some friends of ours moved to Spain a year or so ago and drove down in their camper van. On the way down they were flagged down by a car indicating that something was wrong at the rear of the van. When they stopped the car stopped and whilst the driver went to the back of the van with them the passenger took some stuff, and I don't remember what, from the front of the van. The driver then legged it. :Eeek:

    It sounds really stupid in retrospect but this is a fairly normal friendly couple who didn't think about the consequences because they never thought someone would do that sort of thing.

    Forewarned is forearmed

    Be careful out there :thumb:
     
  11. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Whether this particular robbery is true or not is academic .. pointless as the info is second or even third hand.. and it may as Karl says be just another internet hoax..

    Similarly, stories of robberies at Autoroute rest areas were said to be just stories until it happened to one of our own members .. so they do happen.

    There are many reported incidents of theft from cars and campers in Spain.. they are not all hoaxes..

    We all tend to relax on holiday, after all that's what it's all about and even contemplating the idea of highway robbery can make us feel tense, we just don't want to think about it and we can let our guard down.. but forewarned is forearmed..

    From Telegraph Travel ..
    Car thieves in Spain

    Barry Bowles, Stowmarket, Suffolk
    Following an unsettling incident on our trip to Spain over Christmas, I would like to warn readers to take care when driving near Barcelona.

    After travelling down the Costa Brava in our camper van, we went through the toll booth on the E90 ring road outside Barcelona, heading towards Tarragona. A car pulled in front of us, signalling that there was a problem with the side of the van.

    I pulled over. One of the the two men in the car jumped out and said, in French, that there was a fire. I jumped from the driver's seat, leaving the engine running and my partner sitting on the passenger side with her door locked.

    Several paper tissues had been lodged in the passenger-side rear wheel and set alight. I pulled these out and went around to the driver's side again where I found the other occupant of the car getting in the driver's seat while shouting: "Fire!"

    Fortunately, my partner had located the fire extinguisher and handed it to me, at which point both men returned to their car and drove off at high speed. If my partner had left the vehicle, as one of the men exhorted her to do, our vehicle would have been stolen.

    About 15 minutes later, another vehicle with a young man and woman in it tried to get us to stop, this time indicating that we had a puncture. I slowed down and tried to force them off the road and they sped off.

    In both instances, the cars were late-model vehicles in good condition, the second being an Audi A4.

    Gill's response
    It sounds as if you had a lucky escape. Your experiences provide a timely reminder for drivers in Spain, especially those touring in cars with British registration plates. Be alert at toll booths, where your slowing down gives thieves the opportunity to disable your vehicle. If you are forced to stop, make sure you take the keys out of the ignition and lock all the doors before stepping around the back of your vehicle.

    Note the emergency number posted at service stations and toll booths for the traffic police who are trying to control crimes of this kind. Before leaving your car, make a call on your mobile phone or even on a replica that doesn't work. The sight of a call being made - and a note being taken of a registration number - is often enough to scare off potential thieves.
     
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  12. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    Whether its true or false doesn't really matter. What really matters is its a POSSIBILITY and as such gives all a chance of not getting caught out in a similar situation. Always be aware of what's going on around you as there are a lot of villains out there just waiting for you to drop your guard. They don't wear striped jumpers and masks nowadays.Thanks to the OP.
     
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  13. keith

    keith Funster

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    Why be sceptical? What does it achieve? Nothing!

    Check out THIS THREAD it happened to US, not some other person.

    We could easily have been the victims then as the other couple were. I would just not stop so we were OK, but a moments hesitation and it could have been so different.
     
  14. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    And there but for the grace of God go Rita and I on our recent jolly to Spain and back, and any other visitors as far as we are concerned. It could happen to any one of us. Although I personally to tend to be a wee bit OTT with security, you never know when you'll be distracted.

    Fortunately, is was the Gendarmes that pulled us over, at the Toulouse/Balma Peage, and not some thieving bar stewards. :Smile:

    Cheers for now,

    Jock.
     
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  15. beachcaster

    beachcaster Read Only Funster

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    I suspect it might not be true...what villains would do this in an area where their number plate would be videoed. Who knows ?
    I am always suspect of "second hand " stories.

    But the boy scouts adage " be prepared " is one to remember.
    And as a methodology to rob people its a clever and plausible one.

    be careful out there !

    barry:Smile:
     
  16. Chris

    Chris Funster Life Member

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    So assuming its true, what's the answer to avoid it happening to you?

    And what if it's a real fire?
     
  17. Xabia

    Xabia Funster

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    I travel to my house in Spain twice a year and on the "be prepared" basis I pick up a canister of CS gas which is readily available in the service stations in Northern France. Never had to use one yet but if my wife and I were threatened I would not hesitate to use it in self defence. Obviously I get rid of it before returning to our shores!:Smile:
     
  18. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    The Protect peppergas is best and as far as I know its not illegal. There is always 2 in the camper and they are only the size of a lipstick so easy to keep in your pocket. They are marketed in Germany to ward off dog attacks but everyone knows what they are really used for.
     
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  19. Ridgeway

    Ridgeway Funster

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    Something similar did happen like this 2yrs ago to me. Coming out of geneva airport arrivals (on foot) we were followed by 1 guy in the lift, it was packed and we didn't really notice him other than he was talking on the phone and said to the person on the other end that his car was on level 3 (same as ours) in fact he had watched us press the level 3 button. We walked to the car, put the bags in and then reversed out at which point another guy jumped and started saying that we had a fire under the bonnet. We stopped (as you would) and went to the front of the car (both of us) he was jumping up and down and insisted that there was a fire and the we should open the bonnet (again we did). Not sure why but my Mancunian up bringing made me feel something was wrong, my Swiss colleague was of coarse totally taken in. I looked through the car and saw some movement and that was enough for me to realize that I needed to get to the boot of the car quickly, as soon as I moved the guy at the front started coughing and his accomplice ran from the now open boot area with our laptop bags, 50M later he was apologizing and offering then back to me.

    Very cunning these guys and any distraction method is hard to avoid when you're tired, in a strange place or just distracted !

    Keep your whits about you on your travels !!!!
     
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  20. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    I know your story is true, and this method is used. But they tend to do this away from tolls and other observers. This method is known to work...

    Why would these thieves use a very complex method in fulll view of people where their reg number can be logged by cameras etc when the method they used on you is much simpler and if it fails doesn't incur any risk to themselves. The method in this thread requires three people to be out of their vehicles with unknown chance of of success.

    I am not saying people shouldn't be aware of things around them. I am just suspicious of stories such as the one mentioned by the OP.
     
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