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Beware 'flat tyre' con

Connexion reader William Prettyjohns explains his experience and warns others about the 'flat tyre' con.

A word of warning for drivers visiting Spain. We were driving around Barcelona, en route to our home in France, when we heard a loud bang (like a fire cracker exploding). At the same time a vehicle came up alongside us with two people waving, shouting and pointing at our rear wheel. Fearing we had sustained a puncture I stopped.

The other vehicle stopped with the rear passenger door level with my door. The driver got out, as did I, and he went to the passenger side of my vehicle. As we passed the front passenger door, he opened it and put his knee on the inside of the door to prevent my wife closing it.

The tyre was not flat and on turning around it became clear that the second passenger in the car, a woman, had opened the rear door of our vehicle and removed my wife’s handbag, containing passports, bank cards, personal documents, mobile phone and camera. On realising what was going on my wife shouted this is a scam. I made a grab for the man but he darted back to his vehicle. They then drove off at a fast speed weaving in and out of the lanes of traffic.

I pursued the vehicle and at one point my wife’s handbag was thrown. I stopped and recovered it with passports and bank cards still inside.

We reported this to the police.
The officer spoke perfect English and admitted they have a lot of thefts from tourist vehicles. There were no cameras on this section of the road. I saw on the rear hatch of our car six small indentations.
Six ball bearings or something of that nature had were fired at the vehicle hence the noise. What I should have done is lock the doors and if possible carried on and stopped at the next motorway exit.

William Prettyjohns, By email

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