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Are crimes against tourists more likely to occur in Madrid than other European capital cities?

Are crimes against tourists more likely to occur in Madrid than other European capital cities?

Mar 11th, 2008, 07:25 AM
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Are crimes against tourists more likely to occur in Madrid than other European capital cities?

While doing my research for our first visit to Spain what seemed consistent was the rather strident warnings about crime in Madrid and other major cities in Spain.

Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, Frommer's and Moon Handbooks issued alerts for areas around Plaza Mayor, Gran Via, Puerta del Sol and around the Prado. I've selected a hotel near Plaza Mayor and am wondering if anything more than the usual precautions are advisable for Madrid.

Several books recommend not using a backpack at all, something my husband takes to hold his small camcorder, umbrella, water etc.

We have stayed in several capital cities, always try to be aware of our surroundings but what I've read seems to contain stronger wording than the usual suggestions for tourist safety.

My thoughts are that incidents of crime against tourists in Madrid isn't any greater than in other capital cities. thanks for any helpful insight you can provide. Deborah

DeborahAnn is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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Madrid and Barcelona seem to be much more rife with tourist-aimed crime than most European cities - including muggings which are rare elsewhere, etc. Chances are it will not happen but precautions are in order.
A relative of mine, a lady, was mugged in broad daylight in front of Atocha train station and ended up bloody and bruised so i know it does happen.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 07:50 AM
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I have topped two lengthy discussions of crime in Madrid we had a bit ago - look for them

You'll find two camps

1- there is no unusual problems

2- yes there is including a surprising number of personal reports of incidents
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 07:56 AM
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PalenQ, thanks for topping the other post. It didn't come up when I put in a Madrid search.

DeborahAnn is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 07:59 AM
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Hi DeborahAnn-
I recently returned from a trip to Spain (inclu Barcelona and Madrid). Before my trip, I was quite concerned about safety because of the same things I've read/heard. There also have been reports here on Fodors about people getting mugged etc. I am a female and I was traveling alone.

Anyway, my experience in Madrid and Barcelona (and the rest of Spain) was fine. I didn't find it any worse than other major cities in Europe, and perhaps even better than Rome! In Madrid, there are police (or security guards) posted in popular Metro stations and tourist sights (such as Puerta del Sol), so I actually felt relatively safe.

Still, I wouldn't be carrying a backpack with me. I always have a day bag and have my hand firmly holding the zipper to the main compartment. I only carry enough $ for the day I need plus 1 CC in case I have a major purchase. I scatter the $ and CC among various deep pockets in my day bag and my wallet. When I'm getting on a crowded Metro, I clutch my day bag across my chest so that no one can get to it.
yk is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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I agree with yk, I wouldn't carry a backpack. It is too easy to spot and open it while you are distracted looking at something. But that is not Madrid ...I wouldn't carry a backpack anywhere when travelling.
kenderina is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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Well, this is just anecdotal, but one night walking to our hotel in Barcelona we were pestered by some young guys that took my camera and even my friend's glasses (off her face!) I guess they were just playing with us and they eventually gave back all of the items. In 7 weeks in Spain that's the only "crime" I experienced. No problems at all in Madrid (besides the hottest weather I've ever experienced in my life!) I think the normal precautions that you'd exercise in any large city will do just fine. Spain is an amazing country - not to be missed!
laustic is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 08:23 AM
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Thanks, this is the reassurance I was hoping to find and will pass on to my husband.

Ron is great fun when traveling but is a very cautious person; he was the one that pointed out the tourist safety warnings in the books

DeborahAnn is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 09:30 AM
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You can get crime statistics for Spain here:


Then you can compare with other countries.

Spain has a petty crime problem, and I don't think it's getting better.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 09:48 AM
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I have witnessed crime everywhere, from Florence to Barcelona to Prague to Delhi.

I will tell you to be very careful when walking down the Ramblas in Barcelona. The Ramblas is notorious for pickpocketing and purse snatching. However, any crowded place frequented by tourists is going to attract thieves.

Be careful of crowded trains/train stations and bus stations.

Have fun at the Prado; the collection is amazing.

Polly Magoo
Proenza_Preschooler is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 09:58 AM
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The incident I described was very near Las Ramblas. I loved the area, but as Polly says, you must be more aware in more crowded areas like this.
laustic is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 10:15 AM
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another " had no problems in Spain - Barcelona, Madrid and Granada" post. We walked all over , used the subway, but very late night we took a cab.
I have witnessed a purse snatching in Paris in the middle of the day.
One never knows!
danon is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 10:17 AM
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If you are careful, don't wear the family jewels, etc. you will have no problem even though IMO the street crime situation in Madrid is much worse than other cities

simply Google Madrid and muggings and you'll get pages - do the same for say Paris and there may be one or two

Rome seems to rival Madrid and Barcelona

It's not the same as other cities and that's my take.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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With 23 trips to Europe, the only crime I have experienced was my camera bag being stolen in Madid---ON EASTER SUNDAY MORNING NO LESS. They always use diversion scams---be alert. The culprits are typically from Colombia I am told.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 11:25 AM
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Yes the culprits i understand are immigrants and often drug addicts stealing for their habit

the bloke that violently mugged my sis in law was an African.

nothing against immigrants but it's not the Spanish i believe who perpetrate these crimes the most part.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 12:43 PM
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We have been in both Madrid and Barcelona (twice each) and had no problems. That is not to say that there is not crime and pickpockets in those cities. We also have friends who were pickpocketed in Lyon, Nice, and Lisbon (not the same individuals). As others suggest, be aware of your surroundings and use a money belt.
takemealong is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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Madrid is the only city in the world where I have been assaulted and robbed on the street.
GaryCA is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 12:55 PM
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Madrid didn't seem as bad as Rome, but it may be because there are certain places in Rome that you can just feel the eyes of pickpocketers upon you (Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, just to name two).

I've seen diversion crime in Barcelona in broad daylight. A group of young Gypsy women came over to an older couple at a sidewalk cafe by the Sagrada Familia and tried to ask them questions in Spanish. The gentlemen immediately knew what was up and screamed loudly at them, forcing one of the women to drop the bags they'd try to steal from the couple's empty chair. Everyone clapped.
kgh8m is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 01:32 PM
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My friend went to Spain full of romance and high hopes, after being robbed in Barcelona he hightailed it to Arles and regained his ideals.
marseillegirl is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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I went to Madrid not that long ago and didn't have problems. Nevertheless, I'd suggest the following:

1. be especially careful around the El Rastro flea market, which is apparently a notorious place for pickpockets.

2. be careful in subway stations, especially getting on and off trains and going through gates and turnstiles -- again, a pickpocket haven.

3. avoid parks after dark and in off hours when there's nobody around. While Buon Retiro Park was fine on a weekday mid-afternoon, I felt very uneasy in parts of Casa de Campo even on a weekday mid-afternoon, especially in the Batan metro stop area (which was all but deserted and seemed creepy) and the traffic roundabouts near this stop and north of the lake near the Lago metro stop (which were ringed with very aggressive prostitutes).
bachslunch is offline  

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