Every year, French police warn motorists using the motorway against thieves who use schemes to rob unwary holidaymakers or extort money from them.
The most common trick is for thieves to signal to vacationers on the highway that there is something wrong with their car. They often do this right outside a highway parking lot or gas station. The victims therefore stop as quickly as possible, in the nearby car park where the thieves are ready. As soon as the motorist gets out of his vehicle, valuables are stolen.
The Italian scam
Another scam for which you are warned in France is what is commonly called “the Italian scam”. Thieves deflate a tire of a car left unattended in the parking lot. Then they wait for the driver to come back. The latter generally looks in the trunk of the car for a spare wheel or a repair kit.
Thieves take advantage of victims forgetting that the car is unlocked, they quickly jump in to steal valuables like phones, sunglasses, wallets or luggage. They take advantage of their victim’s lack of vigilance when they go for help or are not careful while changing the tire. We do not know if this scam was called “Italian style” because it is mainly Italians who specialize in it. To avoid falling into this trap, it is essential to lock the car in case of a flat tire and to hide all valuables or place them in a lockable glove compartment.
The Irish Scam
Two years ago, the French police already warned of the so-called “Irish scam”. Here, holidaymakers are accosted in the parking lot by a haggard-looking man or woman who, in perfect English, explains that he or she and their family have been robbed by unscrupulous thieves. So they can’t go back to their country and ask you if you can lend them some money. Of course, the victims never see the loaned money again.
Another technique is to ask if you can make a debit or credit card payment for them because they only have cash and their credit card is not accepted. Never accept such a transaction, because you will be paid with counterfeit notes.
Beware of Bluetooth detectors
According to the police, to prevent targeted burglaries, it is essential to completely switch off laptops, smartphones, tablets and the like when parking the car, for example at a rest area. As these devices are often on standby, thieves can use WiFi and Bluetooth detectors to pinpoint where they are and which car window to break.
Egg on the windshield, myth or reality?
A stealing technique which, as far as we know, has only been used once in the Netherlands, but which, according to videos on Facebook, is also used in Spain, involves throwing an egg at your car’s windshield. When you turn on your windshield wipers, your view is limited and you’re tempted to get out of your car to clean up the mess, allowing “helpers” to clear your car. Although this flying technique may be more myth than fact, be aware that you should not activate the windshield wipers if an egg is thrown at your windshield, and continue driving until you can stop safely.