Another Barcelona Scam

Oct 25th, 2009, 08:16 PM
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Another Barcelona Scam

Barcelona seems to have a bad reputation on the forums when it comes to scams and theft. Well my son contacted me to inform me had his wallet stolen in Barcelona. He was approached by a stranger a couple of nights who started a conversation. The stranger dropped his cigarette "accidently" and my son courteously picked it up for him. As he did so the louse picked his back pocket. My son had had a few drinks so although not intoxicated his guard was down. After contacting me I rang his bank immediately and cancelled his credit card. So what's the message in all of this? The following applies anywhere not just Barcelona.

1. Don't talk to strangers!
2. Drink moderately.
3. Don't be paranoid, but do remember someone is always assessing you as a possible target.
4. Wear a moneybelt. I know, I know there's volumes written in this forum about their merits and negatives. Are you prepared to risk considerable inconvenience from being robbed of bank cards and passport?
5. Contact your credit provider and Embassy IMMEDIATELY.
6. File a police report: Fortunately for him he only lost 100 euro and his cards were not accessed. He chose not to file a report but if your cards are accessed you will need this to file an insurance/bank claim.

Would anyone like to add to this list? Happy and safe travels.
worldinabag is offline  
Oct 25th, 2009, 08:21 PM
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Young people in their late teens and early twenties seem to be quite vulnerable, based on the fact that two young people that I know who have gone to Barcelona lately have both suffered either robbery or attempted robbery (I don't mean pickpocketing - but robbery). In one case, it was thwarted by the would-be victim being very fleetfooted.

Sorry this happened to your son, and I'm glad he was okay.

I hate to say don't talk to strangers, though. How would you meet anyone while traveling if you forbid talking?
WillTravel is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 12:14 AM
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Defenders can say what they want. Of course this "can happen anywhere", but the FREQUENCY and probability that it will happen in this city and Madrid are MUCH higher than many other capitals.

And it will get worse.

There is NO CONSEQUENCE for stealing a mere wallet in Spain.

Maybe this helps explain the problem.
lincasanova is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 12:45 AM
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Obviously folks should be careful, but we were in Barcelona last month, stayed in Born , walked down the Ramblas, used ATMs and saw no crime or pickpockets. I never wear a money belt...the only time I did (in Turkey) I lost money as I slipped it off as it was very uncomfortable and left it behind on the steps! It was handed in to the bar I was outside, with passport, but by the time it got back to me visa the police, minus cash. I carry a I do in my own don't see the inhabitants of Barcelona all wearing money belts....
If we never talk to strangers we never meet nice people on our travels....
alihutch is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 02:44 AM
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worldinabag (in pertinent part) writes: "... my son contacted me to inform me had his wallet stolen in Barcelona. ... So what's the message in all of this?

... Would anyone like to add to this list?" Yes!

You titled this thread: 'Another Barcelona Scam.' I don't see anything original about it! It's just the same old getting your wallet stolen by a pickpocket who distracts you and manipulates you to make their target more accessible for him/her.
One must be aware of one's surroundings at all times and:
7. Never, ever carry your wallet in your back pocket!
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 02:44 AM
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I am so happy to hear that alihutch. I have never been robbed either in 39 years HOWEVER, the percentage of friends and guests who have been is ENORMOUS. Somtimes with me at their side!

There was an intersting article in the newspaper a long time ago recorded off a foreigner's cell phone that was tapped for other reasons:

"Hey man.. you gotta get over here. A paradise. Even when they catch you nothing happens. We don't understand it! Ha Ha HA...Amazing . We're raking in $$$$ a day! can u believe it? "

The organized (petty) crime here is out of control, but they ARE dismantling a few of the clans occasionally. Whether the judge later does anything, is another question. The police tend to be fairly disappointed in the consequences these parasites pay.. the thieves even laugh when they leave the police station, sneering at the police who took them in.
(Have been told this first hand by a policeman friend in VLC)
lincasanova is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 05:24 AM
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"As he did so the louse picked his back pocket"

A wallet in a back pocket is an easy mark for a pickpocket.
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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I have violated rules 1-4 during travel, including the four months I worked in Barcelona. Nothing happened to me until now though this might simply be luck.

Still I believe that it suits me better if I leave everything in the hotel which is difficult to replace (as for example the passport) and take only some cash and one credit card with me. If this was gone, I'd curse the thief, but life and the vacation would go on.
Hans is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 07:12 AM
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oh...I didn't see the bit that said the wallet was in his back pocket...well that was a bit daft.....horrid for you knowing that this has happened to your boy, but a little common sense goes a long way.
alihutch is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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Been to Madrid many, many, many times. Never a problem; not even a bad look on my direction! I was pickpocketed while shopping in Viana do Castelo (Portugal), one of the most quaint, nicest villages I have ever been to. Go figure.

I agree you should be proactive and take necessary precautions. Not placing your wallet on your back pocket is advice that has been around for about a hundred years. Your title "Another Barcelona Scam" could also be titled "Another dumbass 20something".....
Viajero2 is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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I agree with LIncasavona the reality is that there is a lot of pikpocketing in Barcelona and Madrid, the fact that someone has not been robbed means really nothing because we are not saying that everybody is being robbed by professionals in subways etc but a high percentage.
People should be aware of this reality.
I venture to say that in my experience I have been lately in small towns like Tordesillas who the local people have told that in recent years they are being robbed in ways they never dream possible, so the owner of the cafe in the main plaza told us, how they distracted him and even his cell was stolen, the owner of the beauty shop how a group of grown ups and children got into the shop one day, only for her to realize later that most customers had been robbed times ? guess so, because in that small town of Castille apparently people used to live with their doors unlocked....not anymore...reality must be faced.
Graziella5b is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 08:14 AM
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Sorry, I don't get this. How would money fall out of your money belt? Didn't you keep it zipped or closed with a velcro fastener? Apparently you also kept your passport in the belt -- no wonder it was uncomfortable. I always leave my passport locked in the hotel safe or in my suitcase.

It's hard for me to understand someone wearing a money belt and then taking it off and walking away leaving it behind.


Of course not, they live there and are not carrying large amounts of cash, passports and credit and ATM cards and walking around with cameras and guide books and/or maps.
Luisah is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 08:44 AM
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I'm headed to Barcelona for the first time and I'm curious if pickpockets tend to thrive mainly on Le Ramblas and the metro? Not that I'll let my guard down anywhere. I'm safety conscious even in my hometown.
amwosu is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 08:54 AM
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If you take Graziella's example of the beauty parlor, a very old unfortunate trick here.. and place it,let's say, in small town Kansas.. a similar set-up to this small town in the middle of no-where she is talking about... can you imagine if a group of people entered a beauty parlor.. then had robbed everyone.. and they are still walking the streets?

The kids.. because they are minors. the adults.. because the police found NOTHING on them.. and if they did, if it is under a certain amount, they just put your parasitic name on a list til next time.

People in small town Spain are realy going through changes.

I just saw an interesting video on the news of the thieves working Las Ramblas and metros.

Some belong to a huge mafia.. two were arrested the other day. Hope they deport them (No, they are not Spaniards).

Atocha is another popular one.. 400,000 people travel to and from and through there every single day!

Just please be EXTRA careful and enjoy your trip.
lincasanova is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 09:07 AM
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Luisah, I was a numpty! Wearing the belt wasn't what I normally do so I forgot about it. The money didn't fall was either lifted by the person who handed it in to the bar, someone at the bar who then handed it to the police, or the police themselves....kindly they left the passport! I got the money back (except £50) from my insurance policy and resolved not to be so stupid in future.
I imagine that people in Barcelona do carry around ATM and credit cards..I do all the time at home, but not large amounts of cash...why would you carry a large amount about your person?
I'd rather carry a wallet, as I do at home, either in my hand, or in a bag/rucksack, tucked safely away under my arm. I also keep my camera in a bag with my guidebook, which I pull out when I need it and then put it away.
alihutch is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 09:08 AM
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Your kid shouldn't have been carrying his wallet in the back pocket. This is Hide Your Money 101 for travel in Europe.

I agree with #2 and 3 on your list, but #1 is ridiculous and #4 is a question of taste and perspicacity. If you want to look like a dork tourist, wear the belt. In Lisbon in '97, one of my fellow travelers still suffered a pickpocket attempt from his money belt. I never wear one, never have been picked (sound of wood knocking), have been to Europe many times.

And I never put my wallet in my back pocket. Might as well wear a "free wallet here" sign above my butt.
BigRuss is offline  
Oct 27th, 2009, 05:39 AM
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Some interesting comments, particularly from Lincasanova and Graziella. My suggestion re talking to strangers was intended as a warning to be wary of people in relation to circumstances. Clearly if someone says "good morning" it doesn't necessarily mean they are going to kill you!
worldinabag is offline  
Oct 27th, 2009, 06:05 AM
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You wear the lightweight belt under your clothes; why would you look like a dork tourist? We're not talking about waist packs (fanny packs). No one should see it. If you need to get money you do it in privacy, like in a restroom stall. You don't pull it out on the street -- pretty much defeats the purpose.

I take enough money from the belt for the day in the hotel room and put it in a small wallet. I rarely need to go into the money belt outside the hotel. To each his/her own, but this works for me.
Luisah is offline  
Oct 27th, 2009, 06:57 AM
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The good news is that authorities are really trying to do something about it. Almost everyday we have news clips of the theivery going on in certain areas of Spain. ( Just saw one again a few minutes ago)

Madrid, (between SOL and Atocha and metros) and Barcelona( EL Ravel area) and some streets of Valencia are the most dangerous ones in Spain for theft.

Today the shopkeepers and vendors near these areas said they have "HAD IT". A kiosk owner near the Thyssen and Prado says it is a constant stream of tourists being pickpocketed DAILY.

Hopefully this time next year we will not have to read so many warnings. That would make me, for one, very very happy.

Congratulations to those who have travelled with no consequences. These warnings are not necessarily for YOU, but for the more innocent, naive happy traveller who may not yet have understood street smarts for big cities across the globe.
lincasanova is offline  
Oct 27th, 2009, 03:41 PM
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"These warnings are not necessarily for YOU, but for the more innocent, naive happy traveller who may not yet have understood street smarts for big cities across the globe."

Thankyou Lincasnova, I couldn't have put it better myself.
worldinabag is offline  

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