Losing It in Madrid

Travelers to Spain, beware. Last month my wife and I were robbed of all of our valuables as we were loading our rental car at a railway station on a Sunday in Madrid. The thieves were evidently well organized because they knew which bag to take and a getaway car was waiting nearby.

The next morning at the American Embassy was an eye-opener. There were at least 50 Americans applying for new passports because many had been attacked and robbed in broad daylight during the weekend.

Methods of theft that they reported included choking the victims from behind to unconsciousness and then stripping them of their possessions, beatings and distractions. (For example, at a restaurant, someone breaks a glass on the floor, causing the victim to drop his or her guard long enough for the partner thief to grab a bag.)

Embassy officials told us this has been going on for more than a year and that it's getting worse.

PETER SAPHIER

Encino

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