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A cautionary tale


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Some guests who will be arriving today have just phoned to say they will be late. The have been in Spain for a week then they will be staying a week with us before driving to their home in France.

Yesterday they stopped for a coffee at one of the motorway services near Barcelona and just after leaving got a puncture. Stopped on the hard shoulder to to change the wheel when another car pulled up behind them. Two guys got out, pointed a knife at the woman's throat whilst the other took her and her husbands bags. They then took their wheel brace, jumped in their car and drove off leaving the couple stranded on the motorway still with their flat tire and no way to change it.

When they got the wheel sorted they went to the police and got all the right paperwork from them, phoned their insurance, not much help, went to the French consulate in Barcelona who were equally unhelpful because they can't prove who they are. The reason they went to the consulate is because the bags had their ID cards, bank cards and driving licences in them.

They said the guys were speaking to each other in Spanish, just so we don't all jump to the conclusion that they may have been from eastern europe.

So if your going south of the border down to Spain (or coming back) and stop at a service station don't forget to check your wheels before leaving (i.e. there is nothing stuck in them).

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French consulates/embassies the world over, are finicky about people proving that they are french before they will help, which can be very unhelpful when disaster has struck.

And  in France too, people getting robbed in their cars/caravans/camper vans/wagons, is a real problem. From being bumped and then stopping to exchanging papers, to people having a rest break and/or maybe a snooze in an 'aire'. I don't think that they mentioned tyre slashing on the tv report I saw last week.

There was a post about Italy recently, well it isn't just Italy where voyageurs should be very very wary.

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Tyre slashing is an old trick and not only on motorway services. Beware a motorcycle sitting very close to your back wheels at traffic lights on a quiet road at night, and if shortly after setting off from the lights you feel you have a flat tyre and you see motorcycle headlights in your mirror, keep driving if you decide that a knackered wheel would be less traumatic than a highway robbery.
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If you're going to Spain it might just be handy to put the following numbers in your mobile 'phone's directory:

112 - European emergency number, contacts Mossas d'esquadra (equivalent of Guardia Civil in Catalunya) in Catalunya

062 - Guardia Civil - the mean bu**ers who control the motorways.

All the emergency numbers for Catalunya are here http://w110.bcn.cat/portal/site/TelefonsDUtilitat?lang=es_ES

If your English or French doesn't help, a few basic Spanish words, which you can choose from your favourite dictionary and write on a bit of paper in the car, could be useful.



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