Before we left for Spain in the campervan we read comments on forums about people being robbed on Spanish highways. I thought it was a case of thieves breaking into campervans and cars while the occupants were elsewhere but a recent experience has taught me otherwise.
While driving towards Barcelona on the C-32 a black BMW pulled up along side us, tooted the horn and the passenger flashed what looked like a police badge at us. I pulled onto the hard shoulder thinking that I’d managed to get caught speeding (even though I knew I hadn’t been) or that it was something to do with the Guardia Civil checking foreign drivers.
It was neither.
The passenger in the BMW came up to the window of the van and asked to see my ‘documentes’ so I played dumb and he said, “passport”.
I showed him my passport and he then proceeded to ask if we were tourists, where we were from, where we were headed and if we were carrying any cocaine, marijuana or fake American dollars.
The scenario felt wrong and got worse as he reached in and grabbed at my pockets, asking me to turn them out. I complied but was growing wary of the so-called policeman’s aggressive nature. He then asked Calypso to turn her bag out and sniffed everything he picked up. I offered to get out and he almost panicked, telling me not to. I offered again and he became even more stressed.
His final question was, “How many euros do you have on you?”
We had about 20 between us. He huffed at this, thanked us for our time and got in the car which sped off at a crazy speed. I was shaken as the realisation of what happened sank in. A police car drove passed and it was then that I clicked we were about to get robbed. He had obviously seen the police coming and got out of the situation.
Looking back now I understand we had a near miss and out of this I can offer you some sound advice.
If a non-marked car tries to pull you up, REFUSE. An official police car will flash their blue lights at you, the officer will not be invasive during searches and will be wearing proper uniform (not navy blue polo shirts with some semi-police-like badge embroidered onto it).
Always ask to see their badge and keep your doors locked and windows closed until you have verified their identity. A thief won’t hang around if they think you’re onto them.
It is difficult to avoid a lot of the time; your nationality sticker or number plate will be like a glowing neon light saying “ROB ME” to the criminal mind. Be vigilant and think sharp.
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