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With it coming up to the peak holiday season here in Benidorm, you need to be aware of potential scams that you as holiday makers may be subjected to. Residents are all to aware of these and also fall victim but I thought it best to forewarned !

When hiring cars it is only too obvious that you are on holiday. It was once proposed that car hire companies remove their stickers from cars identifying them as so, but this has obviously not materialized. Be vigilant when loading your car with luggage and DO NOT leave unattended at any time. Remember all your valuables are probably safely packed in them including your passports ... IF the unfortunate happens and you do loose it read "Lost your passport in Benidorm" posted on 22nd May on  the procedure to follow (it would probably be worth reading beforehand). Check around the car before departing.

On the way from the airport
 Once on the motorway one of the biggest scams going is another "helpful and considerate" driver pulling alongside you pointing to your tyre. You obviously think that he is indicating a puncture - DO NOT pull over. You would most certainly be aware if you did have one. Carry on driving and if you are unsure pull up at either the toll booths or near police if possible then check to re-assure yourself. What happens is that you do pull over to the side and the "helpful and considerate" chap will also pull over and offer to assist you. Whilst you are all outside inspecting the so called puncture another member of the "team" will be helping themselves to your hand-luggage which is probably on the floor on the passenger side. Don't fool yourself that you would see - these are professional gangs and even target us "locals" successfully!

Once at your location, in particular if you are renting a villa just be vigilant of anyone hanging around as you unload. They will be aware you are newly arrived with all your cash and travellers cheques bountiful and therefore a fruitful target. Many people would unload then head  straight off to find a local restaurant / shop leaving the place empty for say a good hour or more. They know that they will be undisturbed for this time and attempt entering so ensure that everything is secured.

When returning to your car walk around it and check that nothing has been tampered with. One current scam is that a couple of tin cans are tied to to the exhaust. You start the engine and start to pull away and hear an enormous clanking coming from the rear. You stop, put your handbrake on and get out .... leaving the engine running! If you leave the car TAKE THE KEYS with you. This is particularly important if you are travelling alone. Whilst you walk to the rear to see what the noise is someone will jump into the drivers seat and speed away - with your handbag, phone and everything leaving you stranded. Also check that nothing obtrusive has been left on your rear window such as newspaper or flyers therefore obstructing your vision before you drive - otherwise you would notice once in with engine running and step out just to remove it.

When in car park especially be aware of a  normally "fairly well dressed" person approaching with a map. This lulls you into a false sense of security as you believe they are "ok and genuine". They wait until you are in the car and then unfold the map and start asking you the directions to anywhere - in the meantime an accomplice will be creeping up along the other side,opening the passenger door  and helping themselves to your bag. This actually nearly happened to me in a Mercadona car park so don't be fooled that you would see anything. Fortunately I twigged and just slammed on the horn to attract attention and they ran off. Now I place my handbag under the drivers seat.

I hope that I have not scared any of  you by making it sound like a real crime ridden place - it really isn't. But these things do go on everywhere, in particular ANY tourist destinations - including Marbella, but at least if you are aware then hopefully you will have a safe and happy time here!

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