It’s known that sophisticated organised criminal gangs in Europe operate around airport arrivals using what we call in the industry a “spotter method” or someone looking to “pick up the eye ball”. 

A spotter is a person that is part of a criminal group tasked to provide information via a forward advance, to help pick up the eye ball or to get eyes on the target. The Spotter will then provide information to other group members that a target has been selected, otherwise known as the “the target selection phase”. 

The target essentially, being you!

For example: you or someone in your group displays wealth on arrival at a destination airport, you may then queue for a taxi, take an Uber or accidentally take one of the unlicensed taxis on offer.  

Organised criminal gangs operating in the area will use this as a moment to spot your wealth, your assets & any vulnerabilities.  Criminal gangs look for tell tale signs such as designer suitcases, luxury watches and expensive designer clothes. If your group then spontaneously or accidentally gets into a non registered “pirate taxi” at the airport there is a significantly increased chance that your group has already been spotted by  “a non friendly entity ”. 

The next part of the innocent transaction comes naturally as you disclose your hotel, villa or holiday apartment details to the criminals operating the unlicensed taxi ring.  If you didn’t already know that you had stepped in to an unlicensed taxi well the penny might drop if you’re offered a more than a ride home.

The target selection phase can happen in number of different ways. 

If your group have decided to rent a luxury hill top villa during your location, there is a high chance of the villa being secluded or remote. Most likely it has one main route in/ route out by a small road. Maybe it’s near the beach, the cliffs or forests with foot paths unknown to you but very well known to others. Secluded luxury holiday Villas are what dreams are made of but without additional security measures they are highly vulnerable to burglary and criminal attack. Luxury villa burglary statistics were at an all time high across Europe in 2023 and the trend is expected to carry on through 2024.


  1. Dress down when travelling on commercial airlines or using public transport. Designer suitcases and clothes will give away the impression that you are wealthy and that you will be carrying more expensive items even cash or gold in your bags. Try to cover up expensive jewellery and watches at the airport so you do not draw attention to your self or your group. 
  2. If you can prebook an airport transfer using a recommended service, use a professional meet and greet at the airport. Book a professional driver or chauffeurs that can liaise with the meet and greet service prior to your arrival this will ensure a smooth transition. 
  3. Never use un-licensed taxis, it’s far better to queue and spend a little extra time waiting for the safe and secure option than it is to fall into the hands of a criminal group. 
  4. Never tell anyone who you meet in the airport or while travelling where you’re actually staying. Befriending the target is a classic method used by criminals who look to get close and retrieve information from the potential victim. 
  5. If you rent privately while on vacation, take time when you arrive to understand its security systems such as any fitted alarms, window and door locks. Request that any key codes are changed to numbers that you can remember and only your should should know. This will mitigate the risk of a previous guest or staff member at the property who might have access to previous key codes.

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