By Humphrey Carter
PUERTO Pollensa resident Alice Smith, feared missing by her sister who lives in La Manga after Alice's passport was found dumped by a rubbish bin in Palma on Saturday, was yesterday found safe and well thanks to a Bulletin reader in the Port.

Working on information provided to the Bulletin by a couple who bumped into Alice last Friday, sister Kay Macpherson managed to track her sister down in Glasgow. She had popped home to Glasgow see her lawyer and, en route to Palma airport on Saturday fell victim to a pickpocket on the airport bus who stole her passport.

However, Alice Smith informed her travel rep. and reported the theft to airport police who, being a Saturday, provided an emergency travel certificate. Her sister and brother-in-law Ian finally managed to contact Alice's lawyer and trace her to a Glasgow hotel. “You've pulled off a miracle,” Ian said yesterday. “And saved us a lot of worry,” he added.

Nevertheless, while Alice is safe and sound, Ian and Kay were about to fly over to Palma to join the hunt already mounted by the Guardia Civil in Puerto Pollensa. The incident highlights the need for visitors and residents to look after their travel and identification documents.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of stolen British passports over the past few weeks and pickpockets appear to be operating inside and outside the airport terminal.

Earlier this year police disbanded a gang smuggling Romanian immigrants into Britain on fake passports.
Most of those passports, according to the police, are being provided by a gang of pickpockets targeting British tourists in particular.
It appears that the “car slashing” gangs are operating again in large car parks - swiping hand bags out of vehicles while occupants struggle to change the wheel or are distracted by a “lost” visitor with a map asking for directions - and now the airport bus has been targeted.

Ian Macpherson said that Alice thought she caught the pickpocket when she felt someone grabbing her bag “but he must have already pinched her passport and he leapt off at the next stop.” The best advice, especially for visitors, is to stay alert, keep your travel documents well hidden and safe and do not take passports to the beach or clubbing.

For residents travelling, make sure someone knows of your travel movements. Just in case.

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