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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, 02:30 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7,940
Never had any problems in Madrid. Neither in the subway, nor in parts of town that some call questionable, i.e. Chueca.

yk mentioned earlier that you should not walk around with all your worldly belongings in your bag or day pack.
Check at home what you really need. Most of us carry so much plastic these days which may not be of extreme value (compared to a credit card or cash) but is a nuisance to replace. Don't stow that in a "safe place" but leave it home.
When you do not plan to rent a car, why take your drivers license. It's not a form of identification in Europe anyway.
Why take more than €50 cash. Or more than one Visa or Master card.

Passports, one backup CC, tickets (etix hardcopies), and maybe excess cash can stay in the hotel safe.
Keep a print-out of toll-free numbers to call if any card should get stolen.

When comparing crime statistics, one should keep in mind that geographically Madrid is much bigger than Paris. So crimes that happen in "suburbia" go on record with the municipality of Madrid while in Paris they actually happen in some banlieue outside of departement 75. And thus keep the record of Paris proper cleaner.

I would never say that Madrid has no problems, but a pickpocket can only pick what is in your pocket.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 02:46 PM
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I don't want to highjack this but on the subject of her husband not using a backpack...any other suggestions on how men could protect themselves and still carry their stuff? I know purse snatchings can happen, but at least I have a bag that I can focus on and protect - that is still allowed in museums and churches etc.

With my DH - we too have wondered how to best pickpocket proof him: I figured a money belt for money/card/passport, his camera can be strapped across his body and I guess I'll keep the other bits and bobs (batteries, guide book, map etc, etc). Men - do you carry a "man bag" of sorts when away?
MollyBrown is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 03:05 PM
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I usually carry a day pack with a strap that goes diagonally over the chest. Like a crossover between a day pack and a messenger bag. So you cannot snatch it like a daypack with 2 straps that is hanging just on one shoulder.
Camera (which is only a rather cheap digital camera for €150, I'm afraid) goes into main compartment under other stuff. Guess no one would want to steal that camera anyway.
Wallet in front pocket of my jeans. Too lazy for money belts - too uncomfortable to peel out money and CC for each purchase. Not saying that money belts are a bad idea - just not for me.
Since my usual "urban casual" outfit consits of worn-out jeans, sneakers, and usually a sweat hoodie, and ball cap, I guess it does not scream "foreign cash" to most pickpockets.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 04:18 PM
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I think backpacks are a bad idea anywhere. You're just inviting people to cut them open and pull out stuff - since you can;t see behind you.

suggest something more like a messenger bag that can be worn across the chest - so you can at least see if someone's trying to get into it.

We did see cops chasing some criminals (kids that had stolen something from an outdoor stall) in the Plaza Mayor - which I haven;t seen anyplace else. But that's purely anecdotal.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 04:45 PM
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Thanks for all the helpful comments.

I think Ron will be OK with his backpack which is the Rick Steves day bag that can be worn with the strap over one shoulder and tucked under his arm. I will just add a fastner that will keep his camera attached to the bag if someone tried to cut the fabric. That, combined with the velcro strips I always hand sew inside his front pants pockets should keep everything where it belongs, with US

thanks again, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 05:00 PM
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I take my drivers license with me to Europe for one reason only -to leave as a form of ID when renting audio-guides in museums and other places. I would not hand over my passport as a form of ID. (I actually do not carry my passport with me on the street)
roadlesstraveled is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 05:12 PM
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I use a backpack. I don't think backpack itself is a bad idea - it is what you put INSIDE.

I put NO valuables in my backpack. I carry my guidebooks, maps, water bottle, sweaters, umbrellas, tissue papers, etc. Even though I had someone open my backpack, I never had anything stolen - there were nothing worth stealing.
greg is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 06:14 PM
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Madrid can be added to the vast list of international cities in which I have never been threatened, mugged or otherwise assaulted. However, in every major city in the world, during today some tourist will be the victim of a criminal incident. It comes under the heading of 'Bad Luck'.
adeben is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 06:17 PM
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but your bad luck no doubt will be more, much more likely to happen in madrid than in nearly every other European city

PalenQ is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 06:26 PM
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DD lived in Madrid for five (06)months and saw quite a bit of petty crime on the subways every day. The same thieves on the trains every day. She used a backpack because she was traveling between two colleges, but felt like she had to be on quard all the time. She's fluent in Spanish which helps to understand what's being said or going on around you.
kybourbon is online now  
Mar 11th, 2008, 06:43 PM
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If it's the same thieves on the same patch every day, you'd think the authorities would be able to do something about it - perhaps that's the problem with Spain - inaction on the part of the authorities -depends how much they value tourism I suppose.
farrermog is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 08:27 PM
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I doubt that there is some magic piece of equipment that can eliminate your risk of getting mugged or pickpocketed. You may try to minimize it, but shlepping around a $xK camera equipment will not go unnoticed. If you weigh the importance of brillant pictures against an increase of getting mugged, then it's your decision.

I can understand people who skip Madrid and Barcelona altogether if the level of petty crime is above their tolerance level. But you cannot wait until some "authorities" make Madrid tourist-proof. The capital will always have more petty crime than some Pueblo Blanco in Andalucía.

If you are not willing to adjust to the situation, and willing to accept a higher level of petty crime, the big cities might not be your perfect holiday destination. There are many, many cities and regions in Spain which will offer you a great holiday experience without worrying about the subway etc.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 09:40 PM
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Yes, crime is a problem in all big cities, but I'd suggest that the comparison for my tourist dollar is not Madrid with Pueblo Whatever, but with London, Paris, Berlin, Athens,... even Rome. The 'authorities' are never going to wipe out crime anywhere, but can at least make it look as if they are doing something and that preying on tourists is not becoming a national sport.
farrermog is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 10:42 PM
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And while the bait is dangling for those who want to take it, I should mention that a backpack and a camera nearly had me in big trouble in Spain in 1978 when, at the height of a Basque separatist security scare, I was stupid enough to stop outside an impressive looking public building, guarded by sub-machine-gun-toting paramilitary (looking all of 16 years old), and dive into my backpack for my camera. Now I see some on this forum are advising it's not a good idea for tourists to even wear a backpack or carry a camera in Madrid and Barcelona. Tourists without backpacks and cameras. Que?
farrermog is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 12:08 AM
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greg wrote: "I use a backpack. I don't think backpack itself is a bad idea - it is what you put INSIDE."

I disagree, mainly on issues that have nothing to do with security. Backpacks are simply anti-social: people take up more space with them, block passageways, whack innocent passers-by, and risk blinding children. And that's before the mayhem that ensues when somebody wants to retrieve something from one.
Padraig is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 09:11 AM
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I would agree with bobthenavigator. I have traveled extensively for over 25 years in Europe and Asia mostly and the only time I had an attempted pickpocketing was in Madrid. Like him, it was on a bright sunny Sunday morning near the market. Diversion tactics ARE what they use. Luckily I was prepared for it. A woman approaches me with an open map and asks me for directions. I am wearing a fanny pack in front of me. She positions the map so it covers the fanny pack and extends the distance between her (facing me) and me. Due to heightened precautions, I kept my hand on my fanny pack as I attempted to "help" her. She was working with her other hand under the map to try to access my fanny pack to no avail. She took off.

That being said, I do now remember that I had a camera stolen off a "deserted" island/motu in Huahine Tahiti which I thought would be safe since it took me an hour to row there in an outrigger canoe. I had no options, I was snorkeling when this happened. I guess I could have not brought the camera or buried it in the sand. I have taken that precaution since then. On a recent trip to Cabo, I went snorkeling and left my general goods on the beach but buried "critical" things I couldn't afford to lose in the sand underneath my stuff. Now, you just have to make sure you remember to retrieve it!!!
ncounty is offline  
Mar 12th, 2008, 09:13 AM
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p.s.- in spite of that, I felt quite safe as a solo female traveler being in Madrid. I had a great time and thought it was worth the minor troubles. It is amusing really, if you are able to foil their dastardly intentions!
ncounty is offline  
Aug 8th, 2008, 11:55 AM
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PalenQ is offline  
Aug 8th, 2008, 02:14 PM
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Madrid: Add MetroMadrid and Puerta de Atocha (i.e., Atocha Renfe) to Travel Guides' list of places to exercise caution. On MetroMadrid I witnessed this 'scam#39; a blonde guy naked from the waist up was acting as if he was drunk or stoned, (at 10:00 in the morning) distracting passengers; his Partner, at the other end of the Carriage grabbed a gold necklace on an elderly woman and tried to make it out the door. The woman shreiked; the clasp held; and the would-be theif went off empty-handed. I was on my way to Puerta de Atocha to buy tix for the following day. On my return, I saw the same pair, still 'working the Metro.'

I don't carry a backpack; I carry a 'Camera Bag' with the strap over my shoulder and the bag securely forward of my left arm.

Barcelona: a pair of young gypsies tried to jostle me as I exited the Metro at the Maria Cristina Station-Stop. I got violent with them; my 6'2" 200lb son was there to back me up. They beat a hasty retreat!

I've heard much worse stories from people who visited Rome, Italy.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Aug 8th, 2008, 02:54 PM
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Not Madrid but FYI:

Last year, 3 different friends, on 3 different trips were robbed in Mallorca.
gruezi is offline  

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