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The Mediterranean, whilst being a beautiful area to visit or reside, has unfortunately, in addition to the usual security considerations of any high profile destination, some hidden risks including higher than average levels of opportunist street crime, a high number of road users under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, occurrences of aggravated villa robberies and for high profile persons, sometimes harassing/intrusive paparazzi.

Private security guards are patrolling some of Ibiza's most popular beaches and holiday complexes in an attempt to contain a sharp rise in crime.

Hoteliers, restaurateurs and resort operators in Ibiza Town, San Antonio and Santa Eulalia complain that burglaries and bag snatches are rife. They want the government to pay for the private patrols because the police cannot cope.

The local representative of the interior ministry, Marienna Sanchez-Jauregui, admitted that crime was on the increase in Ibiza, but insisted that more police had been brought in and that they were coping well.

Pedro Matutes, the head of the Ibiza hoteliers' association, said the government should do more to combat organised crime.

The biggest installer of burglar alarms said the company's sales had increased by 35 per cent in the past three months, as owners of luxury holiday homes complained that they dared not go out in the evening for fear of break-ins.

Ibiza has worked hard in the past couple of years to attract more upmarket visitors, and the prospect of losing them so soon is widely regarded as a disaster for the local economy.

Antonio Legaz, the head of the island's biggest private security firm, said foreign residents - particularly Germans - were beginning to sell up and move out.

Thomas Cook, the German-owned travel company that brings about five million foreign visitors to Spain every summer, said the number of packages to the Balearics - Majorca and Menorca, as well as Ibiza - fell by 24 per cent in the first half of this year.

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