News Archive from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week May 9th to May 15th
CAR THIEVES TARGET MÁLAGA AIRPORT Luggage identifies wealthy victims
By David Eade
CAR THIEVES ARE NOW FOCUSING ON MÁLAGA AIRPORT, TARGETING LUXURY CARS AND PASSENGERS' LUGGAGE.
For the past year, a gang of car thieves has been targeting petrol stations in Marbella. Their modus operandi is always the same, they watch to see if the drivers of luxury cars leave their keys in the ignition and then drive off when the drivers go to pay the bill. Now a new gang is operating in the Benalmádena area, this time targeting tourists arriving at Málaga Airport.
According to the head of Benalmádena local police, Lázaro Bañasco, the gang operates from Málaga Airport where they monitor the flight arrivals. They target their victims on the basis of whether they hire a top range car or on the quality of their luggage. Sr Bañasco says the gang is very well organised.
However, the thieves do not carry out the robberies at the airport but wait until their victims have reached a petrol station, usually on the N-340. The Repsol service station at Arroyo de la Miel is a favourite location for the thieves to strike. As in the Marbella robberies, they wait until the driver goes to pay the bill and then drive off if the keys are left in the ignition.
THE PUNCTURE ALTERNATIVE
In the reported cases of luggage theft, the thieves follow a different modus operandi. They give the victim's car a slow puncture thus ensuring that it will come to a halt about five minutes along the motorway. The thieves follow the car and stop with offers of help in changing the wheel. The spare wheel is stored in the boot where the luggage is located. The bags are brought out of the boot in order to uncover the spare wheel, leaving them an easy prey to the thieves who quickly make off with the luggage leaving the victim stranded.
A RECENT STUDY CARRIED OUT BY A TEAM FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF GRANADA SHOWS THAT BRITONS ARE SPAIN'S MOST DANGEROUS DRIVERS.
Residents, political parties and trade unions act in agreement
By David Eade
STUDIES REVEAL THAT BRITONS ARE TWICE AS LIKELY TO HAVE ACCIDENTS
The survey was commissioned amid growing concern at the high number of road deaths in Spain. The annual figure is around 5,700 per annum, which ironically is about twice the rate in the United Kingdom.The university team analysed the data from around 900,000 traffic accidents between 1990 and 1999. They found that Britons were twice as likely as the Spanish to cause accidents.
Safest drivers after the Spanish (1.0), are the Belgians, who are only marginally more likely to cause a crash. Next come the Portuguese (1.15), Italians (1.18), French (1.28), Germans (1.36), Dutch (1.46), Americans (1.47), Moroccans (1.65), Swiss (1.68) with only the Britons going into double figures of 2.16.
Professor Pablo Lardelli-Claret, of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Granada said: "Drivers may change their driving habits when they are abroad. This factor seems to have been influential for British drivers." The university's report concluded that: "Foreigners driving in Spain should be considered a high risk group."
LEFT HAND DRIVES AT FAULT
British road safety experts were of the opinion that having to cope with left-hand drive cars whilst driving on the right was a probable reason for the poor showing of UK drivers. Looking the wrong way at junctions could be another factor, as well as becoming disorientated and confused in an emergency.
HERBALIST OUTLET IN ECSTASY SCANDAL
Benalmádena Town Hall orders shop's immediate closure
By David Eade
AN INSPECTOR FROM REGIONAL GOVERNMENT'S HEALTH AUTHORITY DISCOVERED ON INSPECTING A HERBALIST SHOP IN BENALMÁDENA'S PUERTO MARINA THAT IT HAD NO LICENCE AND WAS SELLING VEGETABLE BASED ECSTASY IN CAPSULE FORM.
It is alleged that the shop's main clients were the many young people who flock to the numerous drinking bars in the Puerto Marina, especially at weekends.
Once the health authority had advised Benalmádena Town Hall of the situation, the local authority ordered the immediate closure of the shop. The shop's owner revealed that before opening the shop, she had consulted the Town Hall on the products she intended to sell, provided from a well-know establishment in Holland, the Magic Mushroom Gallery.
The Málaga Prosecutor is studying the complaint laid by the regional health authority. Following the recent death of two young people after taking ecstasy at a party at Málaga's Palacio de los Deportes, the authorities have been keeping a close watch on the sale of the drug in discos and bars.
The vegetable ecstasy is produced in capsule form and the authorities argue that there is no control over the manufacturing process. It is stated that these capsules can endanger the health of people with high blood pressure. It is also alleged they have caused heart attacks and embolism which have resulted in deaths.
A QUESTION OF LEGALITY
Benalmádena Town Hall has justified its action in closing the shop on the basis that it has no opening licence. The local authority has indicated it will only consider granting permission for the shop to re-open if it can be proved that the vegetable ecstasy tablets and other items on sale are legal.
However, the Málaga Prosecutor and health inspectors may have a problem in proving that these vegetable based products are indeed illegal. Nonetheless the health inspectors are not deterred. They have stepped up their investigations and are now looking for what could be illegal substances in over 200 herbalists and 'smart shops' in the province of Málaga. A shop in Fuengirola has also been reported by the inspectors to the local Town Hall and the Málaga prosecutor for selling unauthorised products.
PROVINCE VISITORS UP ON LAST YEAR
But complaints on traffic congestion also rise
By David Jamieson
MÁLAGA WILL RECEIVE 8.6 MILLION VISITORS THIS YEAR. THE COSTA DEL SOL'S TOURIST BOARD ESTIMATES THE PROVINCE WILL SEE AN INCREASE OF 3.6 PER CENT ON LAST YEAR, GENERATING 7,780 MILLION EUROS IN REVENUE.
The Board's president, Juan Fraile, said last week that the 10 per cent drop in hotel occupation following the attacks of September 11 last year, produced an annual figure for 2001 which was four per cent down on 2000. A contributory factor to the fall, he added, was the increase in the number of available hotel beds.
Meanwhile, a survey published by the Tourism Observatory on the coast shows than two out of 10 visitors are attracted by the weather, return visitors account for 20 per cent, and over 90 per cent come for leisure and holidays. Golfers account for only 2.2 per cent of arrivals.
NOT ALL GOOD NEWS
However, for the first time, road traffic figures amongst visitors' complaints. Dirty streets, lack of cleanliness on beaches and over-crowding were also high on the list of dissatisfaction.
STRAW NOT WELCOMED IN GIBRALTAR
By David Eade
As predicted in last week's Costa del Sol News, Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, made a flying visit to Gibraltar last Friday to gauge public opinion on the Anglo-Spanish talks on the Rock's future. His visit was marked with a demonstration outside the Convent, the Governor's official residence. The GSLP opposition party also held a mass protest meeting in the Casemates Square after GSLP Leader Joe Bossano and his coalition partner, Liberal leader Dr Joseph Garcia, had met with Mr Straw.
Gibraltar's Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, made a determined effort to talk to the protestors but his message was drowned out by the shouts and jeers.
Mr Straw made his point to the crowds that any eventual Anglo-Spanish agreement would be put to the people of Gibraltar and it would have to be approved by them in a referendum. He told the protestors that whatever deal was done the final decision would be for the people of Gibraltar to make.
GUESTS FLEE HOTEL BLAZE
Three hundred guests were evacuated from the Alay Hotel in Benalmádena after a fire broke out in the kitchen area. The blaze started at 18.15 when a small fryer burst into flames. Smoke soon filled the upper floor areas and guests were ordered to leave as a precautionary measure.
The guests were kept waiting outside the hotel for more than an hour as the fire brigade fought the blaze. Fortunately nobody was injured and the damage was contained to the kitchen area, which was partially destroyed by the flames. Guests were allowed to return to their rooms once the smoke had cleared.
MUNICIPAL AID FOR PARQUE ANIMAL
Pressure from parents leads to longer opening hours
By David Eade
Torremolinos Town Hall is to grant 21,634 euros to the animal rescue service Parque Animal, based in the municipality. The money is being allocated on a number of conditions, including that the charity undertakes at least four collections of stray animals each month. For its part, Parque Animal will make a full report to the local authority on the number of animals rescued and their circumstances as well as the total number of those re-homed, as well as those still living at the refuge or put down.
Parque Animal has for the past 10 years dedicated itself to rescuing the abandoned cats and dogs of the town of Torremolinos. Last year it opened an animal refuge in the municipality. In the past decade the non-profit making organisation has rescued 840 cats and dogs of which more than 640 have been adopted by new owners. Eighty of the animals have been returned to their owners and 70 have had to be put down due to severe illness or injuries.